Chapter XIX. Sewing School
 

"Let's get Mabel and all the others," said Nan to Mildred. "We ought to take at least six gingham aprons and three nightgowns over to the camp."

Aunt Sarah had turned a big long attic room into a sewing school where Nan and Mildred had full charge. Flossie was to look after the spools of thread, keeping them from tangling up, and the girls agreed to let Freddie cut paper patterns.

This was not a play sewing school but a real one, for Aunt Sarah and Mrs. Bobbsey were to do the operating or machine sewing, while the girls were to sew on tapes, buttons, overhand seams, and do all that.

Mildred and Nan invited Mabel, Nettle, Marie Brenn (she was visiting the Herolds), Bessie, and Anna Thomas, a big girl who lived over Lakeside way.

"Be sure to bring your thimbles and needles," Nan told them. "And come at two o'clock this afternoon."

Every girl came - even Nettie, who was always so busy at home.

Mrs. Bobbsey sat at the machine ready to do stitching while Aunt Sarah was busy "cutting out" on a long table in front of the low window.

"Now, young ladies," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "we have ready some blue gingham aprons. You see how they are cut out; two seams, one at each side, then they are to be closed down the back. There will be a pair of strings on each apron, and you may begin by pressing down a narrow hem on these strings. We will not need to baste them, just press them down with the finger this way."

Mrs. Bobbsey then took up a pair of the sashes and turned in the edges. Immediately the girls followed her instructions, and very soon all of the strings were ready for the machine.

Nan handed them to her mother, and then Aunt Sarah gave out the work.

"Now these are the sleeves," said Aunt Sarah, "and they must each have little gathers brought in at the elbow here between these notches. Next you place the sleeve together notch to notch, and they can be stitched without basting."

"Isn't it lively to work this way?" said Mildred. "It isn't a bit of trouble, and see how quickly we get done."

"Many hands make light work," replied Mrs. Bobbsey. "I guess we will get all the aprons finished this afternoon."

Piece by piece the various parts of the garments were given out, until there remained nothing more to do than to put on buttons and work buttonholes, and overhand the arm holes.

"I'll cut the buttonholes," said Mrs. Bobbsey, "then Nan and Mildred may work the buttonholes by sticking a pin through each hole. The other girls may then sew the buttons on."

It was wonderful how quickly those little pearl buttons went down the backs of the aprons.

"I believe I could make an apron all alone now," said Nan, "if it was cut out."

"So could I," declared Mildred. "It isn't hard at all."

"Well, here's my patterns," spoke up Freddie, who with Flossie had been busy over in the corner cutting "ladies" out of a fashion paper.

"No, they're paper dolls," said Flossie, who was standing them all up in a row, "and we are going to give them to the fresh-air children to play with on rainy days."

It was only half-past four when Nan rang the bell to dismiss the sewing school.

"We have had such a lovely time," said Mabel, "we would like to have sewing to do every week."

"Well, you are welcome to come," said Aunt Sarah. "We will make night dresses for the poor little ones next week, then after that you might all bring your own work, mending, fancywork or tidies, whatever you have to do."

"And we might each pay five cents to sew for the fresh-air children," suggested Mildred.

"Yes, all charity sewing classes have a fund," Mrs. Bobbsey remarked. "That would be a good idea."

"Now let us fold up the aprons," said Nan. "Don't they look pretty?"

And indeed the half-dozen blue-and-white ginghams did look very nice, for they were carefully made and all smooth and even.

"When can we iron them out?" asked Flossie, anxious to deliver the gifts to the needy little ones.

"To-morrow afternoon," replied her mother. "The boys are going to pick vegetables in the morning, and we will drive over in the afternoon."

Uncle Daniel had given the boys permission to pick all the butter-beans and string-beans that were ripe, besides three dozen ears of the choicest corn, called "Country Gentleman."

"Children can only eat very tender corn," said Uncle Daniel, "and as that is sweet and milky they will have no trouble digesting it."

Harry looked over every ear of the green corn by pulling the husks down and any that seemed a bit overripe he discarded.

"We will have to take the long wagon," said Bert, as they began to count up the baskets. There were two of beans, three of corn, one of lettuce, two of sweet apples, besides five bunches of Freddie's radishes.

"Be sure to bring Sandy back with you," called Freddie, who did not go to the camp this time. "Tell him I'll let him be my twin brother."

Nan and Aunt Sarah went with the boys, but how disappointed they were to find a strange matron in charge of the camp, and Sandy's eyes red from crying after Mrs. Manily.

"Oh, I knowed you would come to take me to Freddie," cried he, "'cause my other mamma is gone too, and I'm all alone."

"Mrs. Manily was called away by sickness in her family," explained the new matron, "and I cannot do anything with this little boy."

"He was so fond of Mrs. Manily," said Aunt Sarah, "and besides he remembers how lonely he was when his own mother went away. Maybe we could bring him over to our house for a few days."

"Yes, Mrs. Manily spoke of that," said the matron, "and she had received permission from the Society to let Edward pay a visit to Mrs. Daniel Bobbsey. See, here is the card."

"Oh, that will be lovely!" cried Nan, hugging Sandy as tight as her arms could squeeze.

"Freddie told us to be sure to bring you back with us."

"I am so glad to get these things," the matron said to Aunt Sarah, as she took the aprons, "for everybody has been upset with Mrs. Manily having to leave so suddenly. The aprons are lovely. Did the little girls make them?"

Aunt Sarah told her about the sewing school, and then she said she was going to have a little account printed about it in the year's report of good work done for the Aid Society.

"And Mrs. Manily has written an account of your circus," the matron told Harry and Bert, for she had heard about the boys and their successful charity work.

Some of the girls who knew Nan came up now and told her how Nellie, the little cash-girl, had been taken sick and had had to be removed to the hospital tent over in the other mountain.

This was sad news to Nan, for she loved the little cash-girl, and hoped to see her and perhaps have her pay a visit to Aunt Sarah's.

"Is she very sick?" Aunt Sarah asked the matron.

"Yes indeed," the other replied. "But the doctor will soon cure her, I think."

"The child is too young to work so hard," Aunt Sarah declared. "It is no wonder her health breaks down at the slightest cause, when she has no strength laid away to fight sickness."

By this time a big girl had washed and dressed Sandy, and now what a pretty boy he was! He wore a blue-and-white-striped linen suit and had a jaunty little white cap just like Freddie's.

He was so anxious to go that he jumped in the wagon before the others were ready to start.

"Get app, Bill!" he called, grabbing at the reins, and off the old horse started with no one in the wagon but Sandy!

Sandy had given the reins such a jerk that Bill started to run, and the more the little boy tried to stop him the harder he went!

"Don't slap him with the reins!" called Harry, who was now running down the hill as hard as he could after the wagon. "Pull on the reins!" he called again.

But Sandy was so excited he kept slapping the straps up and down on poor Bill, which to the horse, of course, meant to go faster.

"He'll drive in the brook," called Bert in alarm also rushing after the runaway.

"Whoa, Bill! whoa, Bill!" called everybody, the children from the camp having now joined in following the wagon.

The brook was directly in front of Sandy.

"Quick, Harry!" yelled Bert. "You'll get him in a minute."

It was no easy matter, however, to overtake Sandy, for the horse had been on a run from the start. But Sandy kept his seat well, and even seemed to think it good fun now to have everybody running after him and no one able to catch him.

"Oh, I'm so afraid he'll go in the pond!" Nan told Aunt Sarah almost in tears.

"Bill would sit down first," declared Aunt Sarah, who knew her horse to be an intelligent animal.

"Oh! oh! oh!" screamed everybody, for the horse had crossed from the road into the little field that lay next the water.

"Whoa, Bill!" shouted Aunt Sarah at the top of her voice, and instantly the horse stood still.

The next minute both Bert and Harry were in the wagon beside Sandy.

"Can't I drive?" asked the little fellow innocently, while Harry was backing out of the swamp.

"You certainly made Bill go," Harry admitted, all out of breath from running.

"And you gave us a good run too," added Bert, who was red in the face from his violent exercise.

"Bill knew ma meant it when she said whoa!" Harry remarked to Bert. "I tell you, he stopped just in time, for a few feet further would have sunk horse, wagon, and all in the swamp."

Of course it was all an accident, for Sandy had no idea of starting the horse off, so no one blamed him when they got back to the road.

"We'll all get in this time," laughed Aunt Sarah to the matron. "And I'll send the boys over Sunday to let you know how Sandy is."

"Oh, he will be all right with Freddie!" Bert said, patting the little stranger on the shoulders. "We will take good care of him."

It was a pleasant ride back to the Bobbsey farm, and all enjoyed it - especially Sandy, who had gotten the idea he was a first-class driver and knew all about horses, old Bill, in particular.

"Hurrah! hurrah!" shouted Freddie, when the wagon turned in the drive. "I knowed you would come, Sandy!" and the next minute the two little boys were hand in hand running up to the barn to see Frisky, Snoop, the chickens, ducks, pigeons, and everything at once.

Sandy was a little city boy and knew nothing about real live country life, so that everything seemed quite wonderful to him, especially the chickens and ducks. He was rather afraid of anything as big as Frisky.

Snoop and Fluffy were put through their circus tricks for the stranger's benefit, and then Freddie let Sandy turn on his trapeze up under the apple tree and showed him all the different kinds of turns Bert and Harry had taught the younger twin how to perform on the swing.

"How long can you stay?" Freddie asked his little friend, while they were swinging.

"I don't know," Sandy replied vaguely.

"Maybe you could go to the seashore with us," Freddie ventured. "We are only going to stay in the country this month."

"Maybe I could go," lisped Sandy, "'cause nobody ain't got charge of me now. Mrs. Manily has gone away, you know, and I don't b'lieve in the other lady, do you?"

Freddie did not quite understand this but he said "no" just to agree with Sandy.

"And you know the big girl, Nellie, who always curled my hair without pulling it, - she's gone away too, so maybe I'm your brother now," went on the little orphan.

"Course you are!" spoke up Freddie manfully, throwing his arms around the other, "You're my twin brother too, 'cause that's the realest kind. We are all twins, you know - Nan and Bert, and Flossie and me and you!"

By this time the other Bobbseys had come out to welcome Sandy. They thought it best to let Freddie entertain him at first, so that he would not be strange, but now Uncle Daniel just took the little fellow up in his arms and into his heart, for all good men love boys, especially when they are such real little men as Sandy and Freddie happened to be.

"He's my twin brother, Uncle Daniel," Freddie insisted. "Don't you think he's just like me curls and all?"

"He is certainly a fine little chap!" the uncle replied, meaning every word of it, "and he is quite some like you too. Now let us feed the chickens. See how they are around us expecting something to eat?"

The fowls were almost ready to eat the pearl buttons off Sandy's coat, so eager were they for their meal, and it was great fun for the two little boys to toss the corn to them.

"Granny will eat from your hand," exclaimed Uncle Daniel, "You see, she is just like granite-gray stone, but we call her Granny for short."

The Plymouth Rock hen came up to Sandy, and much to his delight ate the corn out of his little white hand.

"Oh, she's a pretty chicken!" he said, stroking Granny as he would a kitten. "I dust love chitens," he added, sitting right down on the sandy ground to let Granny come up on his lap. There was so much to see in the poultry yard that Sandy, Freddie, and Uncle Daniel lingered there until Martha appeared at the back door and rang the big dinner bell in a way that meant, "Hurry up! something will get cold if you don't."

And the something proved to be chicken pot-pie with dumplings that everybody loves. And after that there came apple pudding with hard sauce, just full of sugar.

"Is it a party?" Sandy whispered to Freddie, for he was not accustomed to more than bread and milk at his evening meal.

"Yes, I guess so," ventured Freddie; "it's because you came," and then Dinah brought in little play cups of chocolate with jumbles on the side, and Mrs. Bobbsey said that would be better than the pudding for Freddie and Sandy.

"I guess I'll just live here," solemnly said the little stranger, as if his decision in such a matter should not be questioned.

"I guess you better!" Freddie agreed, "'cause it's nicer than over there, isn't it?"

"Lots," replied Sandy, "only maybe Mrs. Manily will cry for me," and he looked sad as his big blue eyes turned around and blinked to keep back some tears. "I dust love Mrs. Manily, Freddie; don't you?" he asked wistfully.

Then Harry and Bert jumped up to start the phonograph, and that was like a band wagon to the little fellows, who liked to hear the popular tunes called off by the funny man in the big bright horn.