CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE GREATEST SURPRISE IN THE WORLD
It was the morning after Tom's arrival. Janet thought over the events of the night before and frowned. As soon as they had entered the house he had gone straight to his grandmother's room, and she had not seen him since. She and Martha had sat up until after ten and then, very much against her will, she had gone to bed and listened for a long time to the murmur of voices in the room below. At first her grandmother's querulous tones had predominated, but after a while Tom's low rumble sounded comfortingly in her cars, and she had slipped off to sleep.
This morning, as she thought about it, she tried to imagine all that had been said behind that closed door, but she found it impossible. Why there should be anything to discuss, she couldn't imagine. Other people lived without an air of mystery surrounding them, and at this moment of Janet's life she envied those people with all her heart.
Once several years before she had asked her grandmother to tell her about her mother and father. Mrs. Page had told her there was nothing to tell, and had forbidden her ever to speak of the subject again. She had looked so gray and sick as she said it that Janet had been frightened, and she had never ventured to refer to it again except to Martha, and all Martha could tell her was that her mother had been a dear patient saint and her father the finest man that ever lived. Janet had tried to picture them from this description, and up until a year before she had been contented. Now she wanted to know more. Mrs. Todd, too, had made her think.
She looked up at Tom's window impatiently, and as she looked the shade moved and Tom put his head out.
"Hello!" he called down softly. "I knew you'd be up with the birds. Wait a jiffy, and I'll be down with you."
Janet threw him a kiss and told him to hurry. She listened, smiling, as she heard him splash in the bathtub. It was not many minutes before he was beside her, and they were seated on the old stone garden bench.
"How is my little grown-up sister this morning?" he inquired, as he kissed her.
"Tommy, please tell me everything," Janet begged. "I want to know so badly."
"Poor youngster," -- Tom patted her shoulder affectionately -- "so you shall, but first let me have a look at you, I hardly saw you last night." He turned her face toward him and smiled down into her eyes.
"Janet, what would you say if I told you that you had a sister? he asked slowly.
"But -- why, how silly! I wouldn't believe you," -- Janet laughed.
"Not if I told you quite seriously?"
Janet jumped up from her seat and faced her brother.
"Tommy, what do you mean?" she asked wonderingly.
"Not only an ordinary sister," Tom continued, "but a twin sister." He studied her anxiously.
Janet was more bewildered than ever.
"But I couldn't have, Tommy, and not know it."
"It does sound unreasonable," Tom agreed, "but it's true. Do you want me to tell you about her?"
Janet put her hands on his shoulders and looked at him, still doubtful and a little frightened.
"You're not teasing me, are you?" she asked, and her voice trembled.
Tom stood up and put his arm around her, and they walked slowly down the garden path.
"No, honey, I'm not teasing you," he said quietly. "Let me try and explain.
"I will have to say some things about grandmother that I would rather leave unsaid, but you must try and understand that although she is a very unreasonable and selfish old lady she did what she thought was right."
"Of course," -- Janet nodded her head.
"I thought that you must know all about mother and father, I never dreamed she would refuse to answer your questions, and of course I knew you would ask questions as soon as you began to think. I've been a very selfish brother and I am heartily ashamed of myself, I should have come home ages ago, but we'll let that pass now.
"You know Mrs. Todd?" he paused, and Janet nodded.
"Well, a long time ago grandmother decided that she was to marry father, but father was in love with mother then; very, very much in love with her." Tom smiled as he added, "And he married her. Grandmother was furious, but she adored father and before long she forgave him and he and mother came here to live. I guess grandmother had to like mother in spite of herself, but she could never quite forgive her for not being the girl she had chosen. I was born, and then ten years later you and Phyllis came along."
"Phyllis, oh, what a lovely name!" Janet exclaimed.
It was mother's name too," Tom told her, and went on with his story. "One day when you were just tiny tots father and mother went out for a sail. It was windy, and grandmother tried to persuade them not to go, but mother laughed at the idea of danger and they went." Tom paused and stroked Janet's soft hair.
"They never came back, dear," he said gently. After a little he went on: "When grandmother heard it she almost lost her mind from grief, and she was sick for a long time. When she got better she had a fixed idea in her head that it was mother's fault and she would not let any one mention her name before her. Aunt Marjorie, mother's sister, came down, and of course she wanted to take you and Phyllis home with her, but grandmother wouldn't let her. She let her have Phyllis, because she had been named for mother, but she kept you. Aunt Marjorie was very angry and when he left grandmother told her never to come back and never to write to you or to me. Of course there was nothing for Aunt Mog to do but to agree. However, she didn't keep her promise, for she used to write to me at school and send me all kinds of things to eat. But I never saw her. Grandmother sent me away to school, and because I was noisy in the house she wouldn't let me come home for vacations. I was glad of it, for some of the boys always took me to their houses and I had a much better time. After I finished college I went west and for a while I was so busy on my ranch that I forgot I had any sisters. I used to write to grandmother now and again, as you know, and I sent my love to you, you were quite right to object to that kind of love," he added, laughing.
"But how could you tell I wasn't the horrid prim thing that wrote those letters that grandmother corrected, " -- Janet was quick to defend him against himself. "Did you ever write to Phyllis?"
"Only at Christmas and after a while I stopped doing even that. She was just a little kid and I was so far away. Aunt Mog writes me whenever they move and change addresses. Bless her heart, I shouldn't wonder if perhaps she'd guessed that some day we would all want to be together. You'll love Aunt Mog; she's a dear."
Janet walked back to the bench and sat down limply, her knees felt shaky.
"A sister," she said softly.
"A twin," Tom corrected her, laughing.
"Cry ahead, I won't look," Tom promised, but Janet had too many questions to ask to waste time crying. She swallowed hard, gave herself a little shake, and no tears came.
Am I going to see Phyllis soon? " she inquired.
"Just as soon as I can get ahold of Aunt Mog and arrange for them to come down," Tom assured her.
"Come down?" Janet exclaimed "Will grandmother let them?"
Tom smiled a peculiar sort of a smile. " Grandmother is going to ask them to come down," he said quietly.
Janet looked at him in amazement. It was hard to imagine her grandmother's giving in to anybody, but it was harder still to look at Tom's mouth and imagine anybody not giving in to him.
As they had talked, Martha had been busy about the kitchen, and the sound of pots and pans and running water reached the garden. Finally Tom sniffed.
"Muffins," he exclaimed, "and I am as hungry as a bear. Come along and let's find breakfast."
Martha's excitement and bewilderment were such that it is a wonder everything was not burned for breakfast, but her ability as a cook was greater than any temporary shock, and the breakfast was delicious.
Tom and Janet did it full justice.
"It is such fun to have someone at the table to talk to," Janet said, and Tom had a sudden vision of her sitting alone year after year in the big dining-room, and once more he called himself a thoroughly selfish brother and choked a little over his coffee.
After breakfast, Janet went to her grandmother's door and knocked as she had always done. It was all a little different this morning and she hesitated on the threshold before she went in.
Mrs. Page, propped up as usual by countless pillows, looked smaller and older than ever, and any feeling of resentment that Janet may have felt disappeared and an understanding sympathy took its place.
"Good morning, grandmother?" she said as usual.
"Have you seen your brother?" Mrs. Page asked a little shakily.
"Yes, grandmother, and he told me everything." Janet spoke very gently.
"Well, what have you to say about it? Come, speak up," Mrs. Page fidgeted with the bed clothes.
"I haven It anything to say," Janet answered. "Of course I am awfully glad really to know Tom and I want more than anything in the world to see my sister."
"You do, eh? Very well, you shall; but if you don't like her, don't blame me. I've tried to keep you away from unhappiness but now you may do as you like."
Janet thought of the lonely yet happy years, and she laid her hand on her grandmother's that was nervously stroking the sheet.
"I know you have, grandmother, and I am very grateful, truly I am; and of course I will love Phyllis," she added with a gay little laugh.
Tom was waiting for her in the garden with Boru.
"Let's take a walk down to the village. I want to send off a wire and then you can show me the sights," he suggested.
"I'll take you over to the big house on the hill," -- Janet was eager to be off. "Get your hat and let's start this minute. Oh, dear, I've so many things to ask you and twice as many to tell you."
"Thirteen years' worth," -- Tom laughed, and they set off.
It was a glorious day, the wind blew the red, brown leaves in graceful swirls, and the sunshine, melted everything to a misty gold. It was, surely a never-to-be-forgotten day in Janet's life. Tom told her thrilling stories of the West and his own ranch, and in return she confided all her secrets. He was interested, especially in Peter, for he had heard of his father. He blessed Mrs. Todd secretly for her interest in Janet, and his wish of the night before to meet her took on a new significance.
At the end of the day the "thirteen years" had very nearly been bridged, and Tom's admiration for his little sister was only equalled by her love for him.
"Do you know, Janet," he said half seriously, as they climbed the steps from the shore, "I'm not nearly as sorry as I was that I have neglected you for so long. Left to yourself you have certainly made a very acceptable little sister, and think how badly I might have spoiled you."
"Oh, do stop blaming yourself," Janet cried; "what is the use of thinking about anything that is farther back than last night or perhaps two weeks ago?" she corrected herself, thinking of Peter and Mrs. Todd.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: A LONG DAY
She tiptoed to the window and looked down. Alice and Mildred Blake stood below her. She could see the tops of their brown felt hats. A minute later she heard Martha let them in, and then call her from the foot of the stairs.
She looked about her in dismay. She was getting the front room ready for Phyllis and Aunt Mog, and she did not want to be disturbed.
"Miss Janet," Martha called again, and this time Janet answered.
"Just a minute, Martha; I'll be right down." She flew to her room and brushed her tossled hair and took off the huge apron of Martha's that she was wearing.
Alice and Mildred came forward to meet her together.
"Oh, Janet!" they exclaimed in chorus, "we have just heard that your sister is coming. Isn't it exciting! Miss Clark told mother, and she sent us over to ask you if you wouldn't bring her and your aunt -- mother used to know her when they were girls -- to tea just as soon as they come."
"Why, that's awfully nice of you," -- Janet was a little taken back. "I'd be glad to."
"When are they coming?" Alice queried.
"To-morrow," Janet told them. "Tom went to New York last Monday and he sent me a telegram saying they would all be here to-morrow."
"Yes, so Miss Clark said." Mildred did not try to conceal the fact that her sister's question was asked purely to make conversation. The date and hour had been circulated freely about the village as soon as Tom's wire had arrived.
"How is Mrs. Todd?" Janet asked, to save Alice further embarrassment.
The girls exchanged glances.
"It's lucky you spoke of her or we might have forgotten to give you a message she sent you in a letter to mother," Mildred said. "She said to tell you that you could drive Clinker any time you liked and that she would be very glad to have you exercise him."
"How sweet of her! " Janet exclaimed. "She knows I love to drive. I'll come this very afternoon and take him out."
"We have our own horse, you know. " Alice spoke with condescension, although Janet knew quite well that only the rector ever drove the ancient gray mare that kept Clinker company in the rectory barn.
"I was tired of driving long ago," Mildred upheld her sister. "I wish father would buy an automobile."
"Do you?" Janet asked. "I don't believe I could ever love an automobile."
Mildred looked at her in surprise and turned to her sister.
"We must go, Alice," she said. "Good-by, Janet; don't forget to bring your sister to tea."
"No, I won't, and thank you ever so much." Janet watched her visitors until they reached the shore road below the house. She marveled at the easy way in which they spoke of Phyllis and called her "your sister" when she herself found it so hard to grow accustomed to the relationship. Finally she went back to her work.
The room that Phyllis and her aunt were to have was long and low-ceilinged. It ran the length of the front of the house. Six latticed windows opened to the south and looked over the bay below. It was a quaint room, hung in faded chintz and furnished with heavy old mahogany. Janet was doing her best to make it shine.
"I'll put some asters in a bowl on the table," she said to Boru, who was watching operations from the doorway, "and then I think we will be all ready. Are you going to like your new sister?" she asked laughingly, as she dropped to her knee beside him and rubbed her cheeck against his shaggy coat. "You must, you know, because she's my twin, but you mustn't love her as much as you do me."
Boru got up and walked away, as though he considered that the only way to answer such a silly remark.
Janet sat on the floor where he had left her and cradled her chin in her hand and gave herself
Boru came back and snuggled into her lap, and they sat quiet, both busy with their own thoughts until Martha interrupted them.
"There you are, Miss Janet. I knew you'd be tiring yourself out with all this fixing. Come down to your lunch now; do, like a good child, and let me do the rest."
Janet got up slowly.
"Oh, Martha, I don't feel a bit like eating, she said dolefully.
"And no wonder, working yourself to death, poor lamb." Martha's arms comforted her as they bad done many times before, and from the shelter of one broad shoulder Janet confessed her fears.
"Martha, what will I do if Phyllis doesn't like me?"
Martha may be said to have snorted in disgust.
"Not like you!" she ejaculated; "but, my lamb, she's bound to; she's your own mother's daughter and so, tell me now, how could she do anything else?" She offered this method of reasoning as though it were sure to cast out any doubts, and Janet gladly accepted it.
"What a baby I am," she laughed, wiping her eyes; "look at Boru; he's disgusted with me, and no wonder."
"Come now and have your lunch," Martha insisted; "you'll see how hungry you are after the first bite."
Janet was hungry, and her spirits brightened with every mouthful.
"I wish it were to-morrow," she said, as she lingered over her cantaloupe. "I think I will die of suspense if I don't find something to do. I thought I was going for a ride, but look, it's raining."
"And a good thing too," Martha replied emphatically. "I can't understand Mrs. Todd letting you drive that horse of hers. Some day it will run away and kill you, and then I wonder what she will say."
Janet laughed in spite of herself at so dismal a picture, and got up from the table.
"Well, I won't die to-day, that's sure," she said. "I wish I could think of something really interesting to do."
Martha thought for a minute, and then a smile lit up her face.
"Perhaps I can find something that will interest you," she said with some hesitation. "Now that you know all about everything there can't be any harm in it," she continued, lowering her voice.
"In what?" Janet inquired.
Martha beckoned to her mysteriously and led the way upstairs all the way to the big attic. It was filled with old trunks and bits of broken furniture and pictures, Janet had passed them many times on her way to the "widow's walk" but she had never been curious enough to give them a second thought.
She watched Martha with interest as she pulled out a little old trunk from one corner. From a bunch of keys that was hanging to one of the rafters she selected the right one, and gave it to Janet.
"There now, open that and see what you find," she said mysteriously. "Now I must get back to my work," she added briskly and bustled down the stairs, leaving Janet looking at the key in her hand.
Boru patted up the stairs and sniffed the trunk.
"What do you suppose we will find, old fellow? " Janet asked him, as she fitted the key in the lock.
"At sight of the contents of the first tray she gave a little exclamation of delight. It was filled with soft silks and laces, now yellow with age. Janet lifted them out gently and discovered that they were dresses. Old-fashioned little things. There was a pale yellow one and a robin's-egg blue, made with hundreds of little tucks.
Janet smoothed them out with reverent fingers, for she knew they had belonged to her mother.
The next tray held odds and ends, and Janet sat down on the floor and lifted them out one by one. Packages of letters that almost fell to pieces as she touched them, silk stockings of every color, and three pairs of tiny slippers. She could hardly believe a foot was ever small enough to fit them.
She found a wooden box too, beautifully carved and filled with dozens of sheer handkerchiefs and, best of all, a pile of books. She read their titles eagerly.; "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austin, Scott's "Lady of the Lake," Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and a beautifully bound copy of Mrs. Browning's poems.
"Then mother loved 'Little Ellie' too!" she exclaimed. There was something very wonderful in the knowledge.
She put the books to one side and went on with her discoveries. Toward the very bottom she found a chamois bag wrapped up
in a yellow piece of paper. Inside of it was a jeweler's black leather case. Janet's fingers trembled as she opened it.
It was dusk before she left the attic, but when she did go down stairs she went straight to Martha.
"Did you know what was in that trunk?" she asked.
"I put them there myself," she said. "Did you have a happy afternoon?"
For answer, Janet threw her arras around her and hugged her tight.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: THE DAY AT LAST
If it rains to-morrow I think I shall die," Janet said as she got ready f or bed that night.
She need have had no fears, for the next day dawned clear, with just enough of autumn chill in the air to whip the color into your cheeks. Tom's telegram had said that they would arrive by the same train that he had come by.
Janet wished it had been an earlier one, but the day passed more quickly than she had hoped. In the morning she drove Clinker out into the woods and came back with the cart full of brilliant autumn leaves.
As she drove back through the village it seemed as though every one stopped her to ask when Phyllis was coming. She told them all, and her excitement mounted every time she uttered the magic words but toward afternoon the fear that had depressed her the day before returned and she could not shake it off. She felt suddenly very shy. When train time came it was all she could do not to fly to the Enchanted Kingdom and hide, as she had done on the day of the fair. She walked up and down the platform in a fever of excitement, and her hands were icy cold.
Old Mr. Jenkins came out from the ticket office to talk to her.
"Quite a day f or you, isn't it?" he asked with evident interest. "Can't say as I ever heard of another case quite like it. To have a twin sister that you never saw and didn't even know you had! I often wondered when you'd find it out."
"Did you know all about it?" Janet asked in surprise.
"I should say I did." Mr. Jenkins nodded his head to give further weight to his words.
"I wonder why no one ever told me," Janet said more to herself than to him.
Mr. Jenkins chuckled.
"I kinda guess all the folks that knew about it, knew your grandmother didn't want it told, and perhaps you've noticed folks have a way of doing things like she wants."
"I suppose that was it," Janet agreed idly.
"Isn't that the train?" she asked a minute later as a faint rumble became audible.
Mr. Jenkins consulted his watch.
"Wouldn't wonder if it were," he said. "I'd better be getting the mail bags ready."
Janet couldn't very well ask him to wait, but she watched his retreating figure with a sinking feeling around her heart. At least he was somebody to talk to, and anything was better than being alone. She could feel her heart pounding, and something in her throat seemed to interfere with her breathing.
Never did a train. take so long to slow up and finally stop, but Janet found herself suddenly wishing that it would take twice as long.
The first person to alight was Tom, and he took time to wave to her before he turned to help down a slender little lady dressed in pearl gray. Janet started forward to meet them, and then stopped short for she saw herself stepping off the train; eyes, hair, straight little nose, even to the solitary dimple in the left cheek. She was carrying a basket and she was laughing at Tom. Then she looked up and stopped too.
The Page twins stared at each other.
"Janet!" Phyllis was the first to regain the power of speech. She dropped her basket into Tom's arms and ran forward.
The next thing Janet knew she was being kissed and hugged.
"Oh, you adorable love!" Phyllis exclaimed rapturously. "Isn't it all perfectly thrilling and fairy-taleish? I could just eat you alive, I am so excited. Please say right away that you are going to love me or I shall die of misery."
Poor Janet! She had never heard so many adjectives in all her life and the speed with which Phyllis rattled on dumbfounded her. Miss Carter, Aunt Mog, came to her rescue.
"Phyllis, my love, do stop talking and give some one else a chance to say how-do you do to Janet." She laughed. "Janet, my dear, I am your Aunt Mog, and I am, oh, so very happy to see you."
Janet kissed her and murmured, "Thank you."
"Well, don't I get a kiss, little sister of mine?" Tom inquired in his deep, good-natured voice.
At the sound of it Janet found her tongue.
"Of course you do!" she exclaimed. "Oh, I am so happy, I can't think of anything to say," she confessed shyly.
"You precious love, that's just exactly the way I feel" Phyllis could not keep still another instant. "There are all sorts of funny little chills running up and down my back
and -- oh, for goodness' sakes, Tommy, what are you doing to Sir Galahad?" She snatched the basket away from Tom and lifted out a huge tortoise-shell cat with
Boru, who had been sniffing at Tom's side, gave a sudden jump, and Janet caught him just in time to save the cat.
"Get down, sir," she scolded, "and don't you dare to touch that cat. Do you understand?" Boru slunk away with his tail between his legs.
"Poor kitty, did he frighten you? I'm so sorry," -- Janet stroked the ruffled fur comfortingly.
Phyllis laughed. "What a time we will have with those two!" she exclaimed; "but they'll make friends sooner or later. Sir Galahad is just as much to blame as your dog. He has no manners when it comes to dogs. Go back in your basket, you're in disgrace.
"Let's make at least a start for home," Tom suggested. "I'm hungry."
"There's a wagon to carry up your bags," Janet said, "but I'm afraid we will have to walk."
"Oh, yes, let's do start. I'm simply crazy to see the house and grandmother and Martha. Here, Tommy, you carry puss, now that you have no bags. I'm going to walk with Janet. You and Auntie Mogs can bring up the rear."
"You are going to do no such thing," her aunt contradicted her smilingly. "I don't want Janet deaf by the time we reach the house, and besides I want to talk to her myself."
She took Janet's arm and started off, and Phyllis and Tom followed.
"Phyllis doesn't always talk as much as this," she said as they walked along; "she is just excited to-day."
"Oh, but I love it," Janet said quickly. "She's -- well she's everything she said I was." She looked at her companion and smiled. Miss Carter was a dainty little lady, Janet thought she looked as though she had just stepped down from a Dresden vase, her cheeks were such a soft shell pink and her eyes such a delicate china blue. Unconsciously she looked down at her feet; they were nearly small enough to fit the slippers in the trunk in the attic.
" Oh, Janet, do tell me who lives in that cunning little house?" Phyllis called.
"The Waters," Janet told her; "that's Harry looking out of the barn door."
Phyllis laughed merrily "Oh, but he's fat," she cried. "Do you know him?"
"Isn't he the boy who is afraid of snakes?" Tom asked, laughing.
"Well, I don't blame him for that!" Phyllis exclaimed. "I'm scared to death of the crawly things myself, but I do think be is a little bit too fat." She chattered on and succeeded in monopolizing the conversation until they reached the house. At the first glimpse of it she went into ecstasies.
"It's perfect," she announced from the garden gate. "Oh, Janet, do love me so that I can stay here always. There's a real sundial! Auntie Mogs, do look. Tommy, yon never told me about it. And what ducky little white flowers!"
In the hall she was equally enthusiastic over the grandfather's clock and the big brass warming pan.
Martha met them at the door, arrayed in a stiff white apron, her face shiny with soap applied vigorously.
Before she had a chance to speak, Phyllis was shaking her hand.
"You're Martha," she said. "I'm awfully glad to know you."
Martha turned to Miss Carter. "She said that like Master Tom," she said.
Aunt Mog smiled. "Yes, she is very like her father," she said. "I see it so often. It's queer, isn't it? Janet is more like her mother."
"She is, indeed, ma'm, even in her ways." Martha spoke proudly, and she looked at Janet affectionately.
"Won't you be coming up to your room? You must be tired."
They all followed her upstairs, Phyllis leading the way and once more carrying her cat. Tom brought up the rear, carrying the bags, which had arrived a few minutes before from the station.
"I must change my dress before I see grandmother," Phyllis said as she opened a big suitcase, "but I won't be a minute, so stay and talk. to me while I wash in this adorable basin, " she said to Janet.
Aunt Mog took off her hat and with a smile, which neither of the girls noticed, she slipped from the room and joined Tom at the foot of the stairs.
"It's quite perfect, as Phyllis says," she laughed, "and now suppose I go in and say 'how do you do' to Mrs. Page."
When the girls came down a few minutes later they heard voices and Tom's hearty laugh. Janet sighed with relief and opened the door softly.
"Grandmother," she said in the hushed voice she always used in that room, "here is Phyllis.'
Before Mrs. Page had had time really to look at her other granddaughter, Phyllis had kissed her warmly on both cheeks and was rattling on her joyful way.
"Grandmother, isn't this fun?" she demanded. "I'm so glad to see you. Why, only just imagine I never knew you existed until Tom came out of the skies and told me about you and Janet. You can imagine, can't you, how surprised I was and of course I've been simply crazy to see you ever since."
"Phyllis dearest, be careful; I'm afraid you'll tire your grandmother with so much
"Let the child alone, Marjorie," Mrs. Page snapped.
"Oh, but I'm sorry," Phyllis was contrite at once, "I always forget, and you know you don't
look a bit sick, grandmother, even though you are in bed. Here, let me shake up your pillows
for you. They don't look half puffy enough to be really comfortable." She suited the action
to the word, and in the twinkling of an eye the pillows were re-arranged to her
Phyllis smiled down at her, and stood as still as it was possible for her.
"I wish you would all leave me now," Mrs. Page said when she had studied each of Phyllis's features in turn. "Come in and say good night to me, child, when Janet comes."
They left her, and the girls went into the garden. Janet was too surprised to voice her thoughts, but Phyllis did not seem even to know that she had done anything out of the ordinary. She dismissed her grandmother with "she's really a love," and returned to more important subjects.
By evening she knew all about the Enchanted Kingdom, Peter, Mrs. Todd and the Blake girls, and she had moved her suitcase into Janet's room, "for -- " she said -- "what is the use of having a sister if you can't sleep with her and talk over things with her in the dark."
Miss Carter and Tom, sitting in the
living room before the fire, heard the buzz of their
"How alike they are," she said, smiling. "And yet how absolutely different."
Tom nodded. "And to think they're both my sisters; bless 'em, do you know, Auntie Mogs, I'm a very proud man this night?"
Auntie Mogs leaned over and patted his hand in understanding.
"They must never be separated again," she said with decision.
After a long while she turned over very quietly and listened. Some one was breathing softly on the other side of the big bed. She opened her eyes very slowly and found herself looking straight into Phyllis's merry ones.
They both laughed. Janet from relief, Phyllis from sheer joy.
"I've been watching you for perfect hours. I thought you were never going to wake up. I very nearly pinched you," Phyllis exclaimed. "Isn't it time to get up?"
"Yes, it's late, and, thank goodness, it's a beautiful day," Janet replied.
Phyllis bounded out of bed and pulled all the covers off of Janet.
"Get up, you sleepy head, and I'll race you getting dressed!" she challenged.
Janet was up in a second and clothes flew in every direction. Martha had left a big can of hot water in the hall outside their door, and Phyllis was giggling so hard when she tried to pour it into the basin that she splashed some, of it on her bare toes.
"Cricky, but that hurts!" she cried, sitting down on the side of the bed to nurse it. Sir Galahad got up from his basket by the window to come over and see what all the noise was about, and at the same time Boru pushed open the door with his black muzzle.
For an instant the two animals looked at each other, then Boru growled and Sir Galahad arched his back and hissed. Janet and Phyllis just caught them in time to avoid a scrap.
Sir Galahad went back in his basket, and the lid was closed and Boru was shut out into the hall.
"What under the sun are we going to do with those two?" Phyllis demanded.
"They will just have to get used to each other, but I'm afraid it won't be easy," Janet replied. "Born hates cats."
They finished their dressing and consulted Tom at breakfast.
"I tell you what to do," he suggested. "You both go off somewhere this morning and leave the live stock with me, when you come back they will both be eating out of the same dish."
Janet and Phyllis exchanged glances and shook their heads doubtfully, but they decided to let him try, after they had made him solemnly promise not to let any harm come to either of them.
"Where shall we go?" Phyllis demanded. "Shall we take a walk?"
"We might take a drive," Janet suggested. "Mrs. Todd sent me word that I could have Clinker whenever I wanted him."
"Of course, that's the very thing!" Phyllis enthused. "He is at the rectory, isn't he? Let's go this very instant. I'm crazy to see those Blake girls."
Janet had an unhappy moment of doubt. Suppose Phyllis liked the Blakes, what would she do then? But she led the way to the village. She only showed that she was worried by being a little quieter than usual. As Phyllis talked all the way, her silence was not noticeable.
Alice and Mildred must have seen them coming down Main Street, for they were at the gate to meet them. Janet introduced them and waited. She expected Phyllis to enthuse as she had been doing ever since her arrival, but a surprise awaited her.
"How do you do? I'm very glad to meet you." She shook hands with Alice and nodded carelessly to Mildred.
" We are going for a drive, she went on, still walking toward the barn. "That is, Janet is going to do the driving, and I am going to watch her in real envy."
"Don't you know how to drive?" Alice inquired. "Mildred and I really don't care for it, we've done so much of it."
Janet watched Phyllis and waited, wondering what she would say to such a silly snubbing.
Phyllis looked at both the girls before her and a roguish grin tilted up the corners of her mouth, and then she laughed. It was a merry little laugh -- but it made Alice feel very small and very uncomfortable so that she would have given almost anything not to have made her last silly remark.
"Aren't you coming in?" Mildred asked hastily. "We'd love to have you."
"Not just now, thanks; we are going for a drive, you see." Phyllis smiled and followed Janet into the barn, where the hired man was already harnessing Clinker. Alice and Mildred stayed and talked until they were ready to go.
"You'll stop in on your way back, won It you?" Alice almost begged.
"Oh, thanks, we will if we have time," Phyllis replied sweetly.
Once on the main road and bowling along briskly, she laughed.
"No wonder you don't like them!" she exclaimed. "Of all the sillies! Why, Janet, they are what old-fashioned books call stuck up." She laughed until the tears rolled down her cheeks. "I wish we could have them at school for about a month; they would learn so many things, and how I'd love to help teach them."
"If yon think they're funny, what must you think of me?" Janet spoke, without thinking and regretted it at once.
Phyllis eyed her reproachfully. "I don't think that's a very nice thing to say to your sister, " she said slowly. "How could I think you anything but the most wonderful girl in the world when I've been longing for you all these years."
"Longing for me?" Janet queried in surprise.
"Yes, longing for you!" Phyllis returned with spirit, "and that's more than you can say about me."
"It's no such thing," Janet denied hotly. "I have wanted a sister always. Why, I wrote Tom and told him I wished he'd been a girl instead of a boy."
"Oh, you darling, did you really?" Phyllis returned to her gay self in a flash. "Isn't it just like a story? I wanting you, oh, so much, and you wanting me, and now here we are. I don't see what in the world we are fussing about, do you?"
"Then let's stop," Janet said wisely. "Shall I drive you to Mrs. Todd's house?"
"Yes, do; I want to see the big room you were telling me about. Auntie Mogs has a lovely library, so you won't miss your Kingdom so very much when you come to town."
"Come to town?" Janet inquired. "But I'm not going to town, am I?"
"Of course you are," Phyllis insisted. "I heard Tommy and Auntie Mogs talking about it on the train and again this morning. Gracious, you don't suppose that now I've found you I'm going to ever let you out of my sight, do you?"
"But how can I go to town?"
"Well, why in the world can't you?"
" Oh, don't worry about that. Tommy will take care of it. Anyway you're coming, and we are going to school together; and, oh, Janet," Phyllis broke off impatiently -- " aren't you the least little bit excited about it?"
"Excited! I could scream from excitement only I'm breathless, and my mind is all upside down," Janet replied, laughing.
"Well, thank goodness! " -- Phyllis was comforted. "I was afraid you really didn't want to come, and I was just having fits, for of course I told all the girls about you, and they are nearly as excited as I am. Where have you been going to school? I asked Tommy, but he didn't know."
"I've never been to school, real school, in my life," Janet confessed. "Grandmother has always had a tutor come every day from Swanet -- that's the next town to us. I don't suppose I know very much and I'll probably be years behind you, but perhaps I can catch up."
"Years behind! Nonsense, I haven't any brains," Phyllis said, "and I don't really care very much. The girls at school that are really brainy are awfully stupid; that is -- oh, you know what I mean."
They were passing the Simpsons' house by now, and Janet saw a familiar figure standing in the roadway.
"Why, what do you suppose Harry Waters is doing so far from home?" she inquired.
"Yes, but I never knew him to walk as far as this before," -- Janet was puzzled.
"Let's give him a lift back," Phyllis suggested.
Janet called, and Harry waved in reply, but he did not come out to them.
"He's bashful," Janet laughed. "I'll chase him." She turned Clinker in at the gate, and although Harry did his best to retreat to the barn, they were soon beside him.
"This is my sister Phyllis," Janet said. "Don't you want to drive back with us?"
Harry hung his head and mumbled something about walking.
"What are you doing over here anyway?" Janet inquired.
"Nothing," Harry replied sulkily.
"Good." Phyllis spoke for the first time. "Then there is no reason why you can't ride home with us; we were going on a little farther but we can do that another day, can't we, Janet?"
It was a new idea to Janet to put off going to the Enchanted Kingdom for the sake of Harry's company, but she nodded and let down the flap of the cart and Harry jumped in without another word.
Phyllis turned her back to the horse and talked to him, though it must be admitted it was a one-sided conversation, for Harry refused to say more than "yes" or "no" in answer to her numerous questions.
Janet, who knew him better than he knew himself, realized that he was angry, but she was too much occupied with her driving to give any assistance to Phyllis.
When they reached the edge of the village Harry insisted upon jumping down, and before they realized it he was lost to view in the scrub oak by the side of the road.
"Did you ever see such an extraordinary boy? What do you suppose is the matter with him?"
"I can't imagine; it isn't like Harry to be mysterious," she said.
"I thought I'd have to laugh the way he sat there and glowered at me." Phyllis was frankly surprised that any one could withstand her charms.
"Well," she added with a sigh, "I suppose, now that we have spoiled our chances of going to your Enchanted Kingdom we may as well stop in to say how do you do to the Blakes."
Janet was not enthusiastic over the proposal, but she agreed, with a nod, and after Clinker was
safely in the barn they went around to the front porch and rang the bell.
They stayed until lunch time, and when they left they had given their promise to return the next day at four o'clock.
"We are not going to have a party," Mrs. Blake assured them, "but we want to ask some of the ladies in to meet you and your aunt " she spoke to Phyllis.
"Are all the girls in Old Chester like the Blakes? Phyllis inquired, laughing.
Janet made a little f ace.
"They are," she replied dismally.
Phyllis put her arm around her and hugged her tight.
"You poor darling, she said; "no wonder you wanted a sister. Well, you've got one, and we'll have a good time at their party. You see if we won't."
When they reached home a comical tableau greeted them. Tom was sitting on the stone bench in the garden holding a plate of milk between his knees. From one side Sir Galahad lapped daintily and from the other, one ear cocked suspiciously, Boru's pink tongue was greedily bespattering his black muzzle.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: AT THE RECTORY FOR TEA
Mrs. Blake had not been entirely truthful when she had said that she was not going to give a real party, for the people who walked in and out of the two rooms gave an air of festivity that was rivaled only by fairs and weddings in Old Chester.
Miss Carter dressed in the palest of gray satin gowns was busy renewing her many acquaintances, and Janet and Phyllis were the center of a laughing, group of girls and boys.
Phyllis had on a dainty afternoon dress of dark blue chiffon, which contrasted oddly with the more elaborately made summer dresses on the other girls.
Janet wore her customary white piqué dress with its broad belt of black patent leather. Mrs. Page believed in simplicity, and as far back as Janet could remember she had always owned just such a dress. It served to wear to church and to the occasional meetings of the Ladies' Aid Society that met in her grandmother's room.
She was conscious this afternoon that its plainness marked her among the other girls, and she looked at Phyllis with just a touch of envy in her soft brown eyes.
Aunty Mog from far across the room saw the look, and made a mental note of it.
There was a very small percentage of boys in comparison with the girls, but among these Harry Waters stood out. His hair was brushed back sleek against his bullet-shaped head, and the dotted Windsor tie, that his mother had insisted on his wearing, accentuated his fatness.
Phyllis greeted him upon his arrival like an old friend and insisted on his talking to her, although it was very apparent that Harry was miserably embarrassed. Janet, who was busy at that moment talking dogs to the old country doctor, watched them, and wondered that Harry still carried with him his air of mystery. She determined to find out what was the matter with him before the end of the afternoon. She had not long to wait, before Harry gave her a clew.
He refused refreshments!
"But, Harry, surely you're going to have something," Mildred insisted. She spoke more loudly than she had intended, and all eyes turned toward her.
Poor Harry turned very red and stammered.
"But honestly, Mildred, I don't want it," he protested, almost in tears.
"I don't know what is the matter with Harry," Mrs. Waters confided to the women around her; "he won't eat a thing, and he's so quiet."
"But surely you'll have a piece of chocolate cake," Alice said and she held a plate temptingly before him. But Harry was obdurate. He shook his head, speech had left him minutes before, and looked about him for a means of escape.
Janet beckoned to him, and when they saw their chance they slipped into the pantry and took refuge on the back stairs.
"Now," Janet said sharply, "tell me what the matter is? I know you're not sick."
"Gee, of course I'm not. Can't a fellow refuse food without all this fuss?" Harry complained bitterly.
"Some could but not you; come on, tell me what's wrong. If you don't, I'll guess anyway," Janet threatened.
Harry eyed her dejectedly.
"I suppose you will," he agreed. "'Well, it's this then -- I heard what your sister said last night when you were coming back from the station about -- about -- well, about me."
Janet thought for a minute and then she laughed. It was not an unkind laugh however, and Harry reluctantly joined in.
"Is that why you refused refreshments?" she demanded, and Harry nodded.
"And that's what I was doing out at Simpsons too," he added. "I was walking to reduce. I didn't want to ride home, but, gee, she wouldn't let me off -- " he stopped abruptly, for some one was pushing open the door. It was Phyllis.
"Here you are, you scamps!" she whispered. "I've been looking everywhere for you. Changed your mind about that cake, Harry? I brought you a piece in case you had."
Harry looked miserably from the cake in her hand to her laughing eyes, and once more shook his head in refusal.
"All right then, I'll eat it." Phyllis broke the large piece in half and handed one piece to Janet. "Here, Jan, you have to help me, and now listen both of you. I've just thought of the greatest idea that ever was."
She sat down between them on the step, and like Janet, rested her chin in her hand. They looked so much alike that Harry could not help laughing.
"What's your idea?" Janet inquired.
"Harry, can you keep a secret?" Phyllis demanded.
"Sure I can. I'm not a girl," Harry answered defiantly.
"Now what do you mean by that?" Phyllis sat up very straight, her eyes bright with a challenge.
"Well, you know girls can't keep secrets," he said crossly.
"Very well," -- Phyllis dismissed the subject airily and sat munching her cake with evident relish.
"Aren't you going to tell us?" Harry asked sheepishly.
"No, not you, "-Phyllis smiled at him sweetly and winked roguishly at Janet.
Harry got up and opened the door.
"All right, don't then," he said angrily. "You're just exactly as bad as Janet," he added, and the door shut behind him with a bang.
Phyllis put her head on Janet's shoulder and laughed until she cried.
"Poor Harry; that's the very worst thing
he could think of to say to you. " Janet laughed
Phyllis was serious in a second.
"Was that really the reason?"
"Yes, but I shouldn't have told you." Janet was ashamed of having betrayed a confidence.
"I'm glad you did," Phyllis said slowly, "and I'm sorry I teased him, but really he shouldn't talk about girls that way, and my idea will really be lots more fun if no one knows it except ourselves."What is it?" Janet inquired eagerly.
Phyllis lowered her voice.
"Grandmother told Auntie Mogs to ask any of these people to come to our house to tea any afternoon she liked," she began; " to sort of return this, you know. So she has asked them for Thursday. Now I haven't talked to a single girl to-day that didn't say how different we were and they made me furious until suddenly -- " she lowered her voice and the rest of the sentence was lost in the soft waves of Janet's hair. It must have been amusing, for Janet's eyes sparkled with suppressed merriment.
When they joined the others a few minutes later they both looked very demure, so much so in fact that Auntie Mogs, who knew Phyllis thoroughly, knew that they were planning some mischief.
Miss Clark had arrived during their absence and was apparently amazed beyond speech at the striking resemblance between them.
"I have seen many twins in my time!" she exclaimed, "but I never saw anything so remarkable! Why, you could never in the world tell them apart."
"Oh, I think you could easily. They're not a bit alike," Alice said, from the chocolate pot.
Phyllis looked at Janet, and a swift glance of understanding and amusement passed between them.
"And, oh, Janet," -- Miss Clark was speaking again -- "I almost forgot to tell you that there is a letter in your box for you. Seems to me you are getting lots of mail lately. I didn't recognize the handwriting."
Again Phyllis and Janet exchanged glances, and this time their looks said as plainly as words "Peter."
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: A FULL CUP OF HAPPINESS
"I knew Mrs. Todd would do something like that," Janet exclaimed, delightedly.
"She must be a dear, " Phyllis said. "I'm crazy to meet her."
It seemed to Janet that with this last good news her cup of happiness was full to overflowing.
The next few days passed all too hurriedly. They spent them out of doors for the most part, either driving or paddling on the bay.
Phyllis added admiration to her affection for Janet. It seemed to her that she could do almost everything in the outdoor line and do it well. As a city girl she marveled and predicted a great success in athletics at school.
The day before the tea was so warm and sunshiny that they decided to have a picnic out in the woods. Martha packed them a basket filled with twice as much as they needed, and they made an early start.
They walked out into the country beyond the village, and Tom chose a sheltered corner under the lee of a hill, and built a fire. Janet helped him, and together they roasted potatoes and broiled a steak. Auntie Mogs and Phyllis watched and offered suggestions. Phyllis upset a jar of Martha's specially preserved peaches, but only Tom saw her, and she scooped them back into the glass, only adding a pine needle or two.
It was a merry little party, and Tom kept them all laughing with tales about picnics and camping trips out in the West.
"Tommy, I think, now that you have found two new and perfectly nice sisters, that the least you could do would be to invite them out to pay you a visit," Phyllis suggested airily.
"Oh, you do, eh?" Tom asked lazily.
"Of course I do; don't you, Janet? "-- Phyllis turned for support.
"I do," Janet answered solemnly.
"Children, you have no manners," Auntie Mogs chided. "If I were Tom, I should never think of asking you now."
"Just as I feel about it," -- Tom tried to make his voice sound very dignified and cold and failed utterly. "I intended asking you all next summer, but of course now I shall limit my invitation to just you, Aunt Mog, and I do hope you will accept."
"Indeed I will," Auntie Mogs answered laughingly.
"Meanie!" Phyllis teased. "If you ever did such a thing! But seriously, Tommy, did you mean to ask us next summer?"
"Then we'll accept with thanks; won't we, Janet?"
"Oh, yes; can't we leave the day after school closes?" Janet suggested. "There's no use in wasting time."
"Or even before, "-Phyllis was not to be outdone.
"Here, here," Tom protested, "not quite so fast. I accept your acceptance of my ungiven invitation, but I insist on naming the day."
"I stump you both to climb that tree over there," he added, pointing to a tall pine; "the one who wins can have the last piece of cake."
Both girls started for the tree. Janet was almost to the top before Phyllis was half way up. As she climbed down again she noticed that Phyllis was very white and standing perfectly still, holding tightly to the trunk.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
Phyllis looked at her beseechingly.
"Oh, Janet, I'm scared to death," she whispered. "I looked down and now I am terribly dizzy; what shall I do?"
Janet came close and took hold of her arm.
"Keep your eyes on the sky," she directed. "Don't look down for even a second and don't be afraid. I'm here and I won't let you fall."
She dropped quickly to the branch below and took one of Phyllis's ankles in her strong grasp.
"Hold fight to the bow above and let your foot swing free, I'll put it on a safe branch. There now, bring the other one down beside it." In this way she helped her carefully and surely to the bottom.
" Oh," Phyllis was almost in tears, "thank you, darling. I am quite sure you saved my life. Oh, dear, I'm still dizzy."
"Well, stand still a minute until you are better. There's no need f or Tommy to know, He'd be sure to tease, " Janet whispered.
"I don't care about Tom, but I hate being such a baby. You went way to the top," Phyllis answered.
"You tried, anyway," Janet consoled her, "and that's what counts."
"You're a darling to say so, anyway," Phyllis said gratefully, "I feel better now; let's go back."
Tom held the cake out to Janet.
"It's yours, you won by a dozen branches. What happened, Phyllis? Did you get scared?"
"Of course not," Janet answered for her. "I promised to go halves, so what was the need of her climbing too," -- she held out a piece of the cake, and Phyllis took it.
"Oh, come, that's not fair," Tom protested. "You should eat every bit of it yourself."
"No, we're twins and we have to share everything," Janet insisted. "Isn't that so, Phyllis?"
Phyllis nodded seriously.
"Everything," she said, and it sounded like a prophecy.
On the way home Mrs. Todd called them as they passed the rectory. She had only just returned, and she was so delighted at Janet's good fortune that she kissed her, much to every one's surprise.
"Please tell me about Peter," Janet whispered, when she had the opportunity.
"What have you made your mind up to this time, Ann?" Miss Carter inquired, from the other side of the room.
"A red-headed boy," Mrs. Todd laughed. "I have seen enough of all my friends with children to think about and I've made up my mind to have one too. I wanted Janet, but I knew you'd find her some day, Marjorie, and so I found Peter. He's alone and so am I. I think we are going to have a very good time together raising sheep," she added with a twinkle in her eye.
"Isn't it wonderful about Peter?" Janet asked as she walked home beside her aunt.
"Indeed it is, 'my dear," Auntie Mogs agreed. "Ann is a darling under her bruskness, and she is very fond of you, dear."
"Well, I love her too," Janet replied; "'she has been so good to me."
Miss Carter put her arm through hers and looked down at her with serious eyes.
"It would be difficult to imagine any one being anything else. Dear little girl," she added tenderly, "you are very like your beautiful mother. Do you think you could be happy with Phyllis and me? We want you very much indeed."
"Oh, Auntie Mogs," Janet said in a queer little voice, "I want you too."
CHAPTER NINETEEN: TWINS INDEED
Janet and Phyllis stood in the middle of Janet's room and looked at each other. There was nothing apparently that was strange in their appearance. One had on a dark blue, chiffon, afternoon dress and the other a white piqué with a black belt.
They joined hands and stood before the mirror, and then they both began to laugh very hard. Boru, who had been dozing on the floor in a patch of sunlight, got up and came over to them. A keen observer might have thought it odd that he chose the blue chiffon dress to rub up against instead of the white one.
Phyllis noticed it and laughed again.
"Funny how fond Boru is of me, isn't it?" she asked. Then they went down stairs together.
Auntie Mogs was busy arranging some flowers in a bowl.
"Phyllis, help me with these, will you, dear?" The white dress stepped forward and then stood still, and the blue chiffon was soon bending over the table.
Martha came into the room carrying a plate of tea biscuits.
"Put these on the side table, Miss Janet, please," she said, and the white dress did as she asked.
"What is the matter with you children!" Auntie Mogs asked. "You are so quiet."
"Nothing at all," they both answered together.
Tom came in and looked around hurriedly
"Nobody here yet? Then I'm going to have a cooky, a piece of cake and some candy. Janet, dear little sister of mine, give me one of those biscuits, or two if you insist." The white dress offered him the plate and two brown eyes looked at him hard as he helped him-self. But he filled his pockets unconcernedly and turned toward the table.
"Phyllis, other little sister of mine, have you a flower for my button hole? I'm not going to be at your party, but I want to look festive none the less."
The blue dress stood very
close to him as the flower was carefully poked into place.
The girls began to laugh, and they kept it up until they had to lean on each other for support.
"Well, evidently something is very wrong indeed, but I didn't mean to remind you of it. Are you going to do this often during the afternoon?"
Only suppressed gurgles answered him, and he marched off to his own room in disgust.
It was not long before the guests began to arrive.
Miss Carter met them at the door, and the girls both shook hands with each one and then went off for tea or cake, and each time the guest said, "Thank you, Janet," to the white dress, and "That's very sweet of you," to the blue one. And every now and then both girls would disappear into the hall, laugh silently and return to their posts.
The Blakes were among the first arrivals, and Mrs. Todd was with them. Mildred and Alice were a little surprised that the wearer of the white dress came up to them and said "hello" in the friendliest way.
"Will you have a cup of tea and a biscuit? You ought to be hungry after that long walk, or did you drive over? Oh, but of course you didn't; I forgot you were tired of driving." The white dress fluttered away to return a minute later with tea.
"Here you are; can you manage all the plates?"
"Why, of course," Mildred replied. "How nice it must be for you to have your sister her--," she said, smiling.
"Oh, it is rather nice."
"Rather nice!" Alice exclaimed. "I should think it would be a perfect blessing."
"Now, why a blessing?"
"Why -- why because it is some one for you to be with." Alice was amazed. "You must have been awfully lonely before she came?"
Lonely -- I? How silly!"
Well, but you never went with any of the girls except us now and again, and naturally every one thought you must be lonely. Alice isn't the only one who thought so," Mildred said vehemently.
"Then every one was wrong. I never was lonely for a minute. I had too many things to think about. Of course it is nice having a sister that understands you, but even without her I would not be lonely." The white dress drifted away at a sign from the hostess, and Alice and Mildred were left looking at each other in pained surprise. They were wearing their hair rolled up and tied at the back of their necks for the first time, and they couldn't imagine why Janet had said nothing about it.
"How queer she is to-day, " Mildred said.
"And to think we always thought of her as lonely! I guess she didn't come to see us any oftener because she didn't want to," Alice replied.
Across the room, Miss Clark was talking to the wearer of the blue dress.
"Isn't it beautiful to think of your being here with Janet?" she exclaimed.
"Yes it is splendid."
"I suppose you will be carrying her back to the dreadful city with you before long?"
"Yes, I think we will go in a few weeks. School begins, you see, and we mustn't be too late getting back."
"What a change it will be for dear Janet!" Miss Clark continued. "I can't say I altogether approve."
"Well, it will change her, and I hate to think of her getting cityfied and filling her head with notions. " Miss Clark did not specify just exactly what notions were.
"Of course you are very dear and sweet, " she continued, "but you are not at all like our Janet; though you look very much alike, I would never confuse you for an instant."
"Are you quite sure?"
"Indeed I am, and I don't want to hurt your feelings when I say that I hope you will not let Janet change too much."
"Why, I think it will do her good to go to the city. She will meet lots of nice girls and go to school, and certainly anything would be better than being alone so much of the time as she is here. I hope she learns to be like other girls when she gets to town."
"Ah, well, I am afraid I can't agree with you," Miss Clark said sadly. The blue dress hurried off to pass the cake to Mrs. Todd, who was sitting alone in a corner.
"Stay with me, child," Mrs. Todd said when she had helped herself. "I want to look at you. I thought this afternoon that you were like your father in manner," -- her blue eyes searched the brown ones. Suddenly she frowned. "Hello, that's odd. No, I can't be wrong. You little imps, you've --"
"Oh, do hush, please; some one might hear you, and not a soul has even suspected, not even Auntie Mogs. How did you guess?" Janet demanded.
"Eyes," Mrs. Todd said shortly. "Yours have little tiny flecks of gold in them, like your mother's. Phyllis's are clearer, less dreamy, like her father's. I won't give you away."
"Oh, thanks; you can't imagine what fun it is, I am hearing all sorts of things about myself, and I can't wait to compare notes with Phyllis."
Opportunity came a little later when they met in the kitchen. Phyllis repeated her numerous conversations, and Janet told her that Mrs. Todd had guessed.
"But she promised not to say anything," she added.
"Good; don't let's change even for dinner. I believe we could fool Tommy and Auntie Mogs all evening," Phyllis chuckled.
"It's lots of fun being you," Janet whispered, as they went back into the dining-room.
"Well, I love being you; it makes me wish I really were," Phyllis answered.
Dinner passed without their game being discovered. though their occasional fits of laughter mystified Tommy and Auntie Mogs. They might have gotten safely to bed without their knowing if it hadn't been for Boru and Galahad.
They came out into the garden after dinner, pretending not to notice each other, for although Tom had succeeded in making them eat from the same dish, they were by no means friends.
Janet and Phyllis were walking up and down the center path. Sir Galahad purred softly and looked up at his mistress. Phyllis leaned down and picked him up in her arms. Janet let her hand rest on Boru's head.
Tom came out of the house just as they made a tableau by the old sundial.
At first he did not notice anything odd, but after a minute he said:
"There's something wrong with the picture. I think it's your dresses. They don't match your animals. Hold on a minute. I've got it"' he exclaimed. ,You've swapped clothes."
"And you just found it out," Phyllis teased.
Tom studied them for a minute and shook his head solemnly.
"It's no wonder either; you are as alike as two peas in a pod, except for the way you talk. What a lot of larks you will be able to have, but I shouldn't wonder if you found it embarrassing when you got a little older. Perhaps I had better brand you with your initials," he suggested -- then he added slowly, "Yes, I think on the whole it would be a lot better for all concerned if I did."
CHAPTER TWENTY: GOOD-BY
"Janet, do you love me?" she inquired shortly.
Janet stared at her in surprise.
"Well, do you or don't you?" Mrs. Page demanded.
"Why, grandmother, of course I do," Janet replied quickly.
"Because you have always been kind to me and taken care of me, I suppose," Janet said doubtfully.
"Is that the only reason?"
"N-no, I love you because you are my grandmother."
"Do you love me as much as you do your Aunt Marjorie?"
"Of course, but -- "
"In a different way."
"What do you mean by different way?"
"Why, I hardly know how to put it into words," -- Janet hesitated. "I love to be with Auntie Mogs and I like to have her put her arm around me and kiss me."
"I see," Mrs. Page spoke dryly, and laughed a short unpleasant laugh.
"And you love me for the opposite reasons, eh?" she inquired.
"I don't think they are opposite reasons," Janet replied. "I love you -- well, respectfully, and I like to think of your being here. I think perhaps I'm proud that you are my grandmother."
Mrs. Page seemed to think over what she had heard.
"Well it may surprise you to hear it," she said at last, "but I love you. I love you very dearly. I have been a very selfish old woman and perhaps I have not been very gentle with you. Tom says I haven't. Certainly I have never kissed you and put my arm around you, but I have always loved you. I want you to remember that. You have always been very patient with me too, and I realize it. Sometimes I've wished you would lose your temper, but now I'm glad you didn't. Phyllis is more like her father than you are, but I suppose that serves me right. I thought that I could love her the first day I saw her. I do love her, but not as much as I love you. You are the finer of the two and some day you'll prove it."
She turned over and faced the wall. Janet rose to go.
"When I die," -- Mrs. Page spoke from the depth of the pillow -- "I am going to leave everything I have to you. I am telling you this because you are going away, not because I think I am going to die. Now you may go."
Janet left the room, a queer feeling of regret in her heart. She wanted to take her grandmother in her arms and kiss her as she knew Phyllis would have done, but a restraint, born from the custom of years, held her back, and she closed the door behind her, softly, as she had always done.
Phyllis was nowhere to be found, so Janet went up to the "widow's walk" to think over what her grandmother had said. She found Tom already there, smoking his pipe and reading.
"Hello, what did grandmother want?" he inquired lazily. "You were with her an awfully long time. Phyllis got tired of waiting for you and went off for a walk with Harry Waters."
"Tom," -- Janet spoke very seriously, and Tom put down his book to listen -- "when I go to the city with Phyllis and Auntie Mogs may I come back and see grandmother whenever I want to?"
"Why, certainly you may; what makes you ask?" Tom replied.
"Because I think grandmother is sorry I am going; really sorry, I mean, not just angry; and I think I ought to come back and see her every once in a while," Janet told him.
"Bless your heart, I think you are right. Auntie Mogs and I were talking about the same thing only last night, and she said you could all come up whenever she wanted you." Tom pulled her down beside him and rumpled her hair. "Now are you satisfied?" he asked, laughing.
"Tell me all over again just what the plans are?" she said as she settled herself comfortably.
"I should think you would know them all by heart," -- Tom laughed. "First of all you and Phyllis will have to be separated for a few days. I don't see how you will ever bear it, but you must try. Then Auntie Mogs and Phyllis will go down to the city and get ready for your arrival. To hear Phyllis talk you would think that the walls of your room were going to be hung in gold and that no one could see to it but herself.
"But to resume. As soon as everything is ready for your ladyship I will take you down. I can picture your excitement now when you see Auntie Mogs' library, and when you are comfortably settled I will take a train West and start in rebuilding my modest shanty so that it, will be ready to receive you in the spring."
Janet looked out over the water and tried to picture all Tom had said, but she gave it up.
"Do you know, Tommy," she said suddenly, "I made up my mind on this very spot to write you that letter. Doesn't it seem funny to think that we are sitting here now together?"
"It does," Tom agreed slowly; "the only pity is that you didn't write it before."
The remaining days passed rapidly, and the date set for the departure came all too soon.
"Of course it's only for a week," Phyllis said, as they stood on the station platform, "but I feel as though it were years."
"So do I' Janet replied sorrowfully. "I wish I could go home and sleep until Thursday."
"Make Tommy amuse you every minute, and don't you dare to forget me even for a half a second," Phyllis warned her. "Oh, dear, here comes the horrid old train! Kiss me again for good luck."
Janet kissed her, and then turned to her aunt.
"Good-by, Auntie Mogs," she said tearfully.
"You two babies!" Miss Carter looked down at the two doleful faces before her and laughed. "It's dreadful to be separated, especially when you are twins, isn't it? But try and brace up, both of you, and it will soon be over. Good-by for a little while, dearest child. Tommy, take good care of her, won't you? she added, as she said good-by to him.
"The very best; and we'll be down in one short little week," he promised.
They boarded the train, and Janet insisted on waiting until the last puff of smoke curled up out of sight.
"It is going to be the longest week of my life," she said dismally.
The house without Phyllis was unbearable, and Janet rowed over to the Enchanted Kingdom to find consolation. She knew that the workmen would be in possession the next day, and she wanted to have it all to herself once more.
She patted the books and said good-by to all her favorites. As she knelt to read the title of one of them she noticed the volume that she had found Peter reading their last memorable day together. She took it from its shelf and opened it idly. Pictures of sheep and diagrams of gates and fences did not interest her very much, and she was just about to close it up when she bad a sudden idea.
She turned to the back of it, tore out a page that had nothing on it, and with Peter's own pencil, which she found on the floor under the sofa, she started to write.
When she had finished her note read as follows:
"Good-by, my wonderful Kingdom," she said. "I will always love you better than any room in the world. " She tiptoed to the window and climbed out swiftly.
As she ran down the hill, her eyes smarted and she did not look back.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: CONCLUSION
"They are all there," she said. "Harry, Mrs. Todd, Mildred and Alice, and Martha. I can't believe I'm really going away from them."
"But you are, little sister of mine; you are going to a brand-new world, and I am anxious to hear what you and another little sister of mine are going to do in it."
"It's more her world than mine," the girl reminded him.
"Yes, just as this was more your world than hers, but she came to your world and liked it, " the man replied. "Just as you are going to like her world.
"And before you know it, both worlds are going to be 'our world."