The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore/Chapter 6
Is there anything more beautiful than sunrise on the ocean?
Nan crept out of bed at the first peep of dawn, and still in her white robe, she sat in the low window seat to see the sun rise "under her window."
"What a beautiful place!" Nan thought, when dawn gave her a chance to see Ocean Cliff. "Dorothy must be awfully happy here. To see the ocean from a bedroom window!" and she watched the streaks of dawn make maps on the waves. "If I were a writer I would always put the ocean in my book," she told herself, "for there are so many children who never have a chance to see the wonderful world of water!"
Nettie's flowers were still on the dresser.
"Poor little Nettie Prentice," thought Nan. "She has never seen the ocean and I wonder if she ever will!"
Nan touched the lilies reverently. There was something in the stillness of daybreak that made the girl's heart go out to poor Nettie, just like the timid little sunbeams went out over the waters, trying to do their small part in lighting up a day.
"I'll just put the lilies out in the dew," Nan went on to herself, raising the window quietly, for the household was yet asleep. "Perhaps I'll find someone sick or lonely to-morrow who will like them, and it will be so much better if they bring joy to someone, for they are so sweet and pretty to die just for me."
"Oh!" screamed Nan the next minute, for someone had crept up behind her and covered her eyes with hands. "It is you, Dorothy!" she declared, getting hold of the small fingers. "Did I wake you with the window?"
"Yes, indeed, I thought someone was getting in from the piazza. They always come near morning," said Dorothy, dropping down on the cushions of the window seat like a goddess of morn, for Dorothy was a beautiful girl, all pink and gold, Bert said, excepting for her eyes, and they were like Meadow Brook violets, deep blue. "Did you have the nightmare?" she asked.
"Nightmare, indeed!" Nan exclaimed. "Why, you told me the sun would rise under my window and I got up to——"
"See it do the rise!" laughed Dorothy, in her jolly way. "Well, if I had my say I'd make Mr. Sol-Sun wear a mask and keep his glare to himself until respectable people felt like crawling out. I lower my awning and close the inside blinds every night. I like sunshine in reasonable doses at reasonable hours, but the moon is good enough for me in the meantime," and she fell over in a pretty lump, feigning sleep in Nan's cushions.
"I hope I did not wake anyone else," said Nan.
"Makes no difference about me, of course," laughed the jolly Dorothy. "Well, I'll pay you back, Nan. Be careful. I am bound to get even," and Nan knew that some trick was in store for her, as Dorothy had the reputation of being full of fun, and always playing tricks.
The sun was up in real earnest now, and the girls raised the window sash to let in the soft morning air.
"I think this would really cure Nellie, my little city friend," said Nan, "and you don't know what a nice girl she is."
"Just bring her down and I'll find out all about her," said Dorothy. "I love city girls. They are so wide awake, and never say silly things like—like some girls I know," she finished, giving her own cousin a good hug that belied the attempt at making fun of her.
"Nellie is sensible," Nan said, "and yet she knows how to laugh, too. She said she had never been in a carriage until she had a ride with us at Meadow Brook. Think of that!"
"Wait till she sees my donkeys!" Dorothy finished, gathering herself up from the cushions and preparing to leave. "Well, Nannie dear, I have had a lovely time," and she made a mock social bow. "Come to see me some time and have some of my dawn, only don't come before eleven a.m. or you might get mixed up, for its awful dark in the blue room until that hour." And like a real fairy Dorothy shook her golden hair and, stooping low in myth fashion, made a "bee-line" across the hall.
"She doesn't need any brother," Nan thought as she saw Dorothy bolt in her door like a squirrel; "she is so jolly and funny!"
But the girls were not the only ones who arose early that morning, for Bert and his father came in to breakfast from a walk on the sands.
"It's better than Meadow Brook," Bert told Nan, as she took her place at the table. "I wish Harry would come down."
"It is so pleasant we want all our friends to enjoy it," said Mrs. Bobbsey. "But I'm sure you have quite a hotel full now, haven't you, Dorothy?"
"Lots more rooms up near the roof," replied Dorothy, "and it's a pity to waste them when there's plenty of ocean to spare. Now, Freddie," went on Dorothy, "when we finish breakfast I am going to show you my donkeys. I called one Doodle and the other Dandy, because papa gave them to me on Decoration Day."
"Why didn't you call one Uncle Sam?" asked Freddie, remembering his part in the Meadow Brook parade.
"Well, I thought Doodle Dandy was near enough red, white, and blue," said Dorothy.
The children finished breakfast rather suddenly and then made their way to the donkey barn.
"Oh, aren't they lovely!" exclaimed Nan, patting the pretty gray animals. "I think they are prettier than horses, they are not so tall."
"I know all about goats and donkeys," declared Freddie.
"I know Nan likes everything early, so we will give her an early ride," proposed Dorothy.
The Bobbseys watched their cousin with interest as she fastened all the bright buckles and put the straps together, harnessing the donkeys. Bert helped so readily that he declared he would do all the harnessing thereafter. The cart was one of those pretty, little basket affairs, with seats at the side, and Bert was very proud of being able to drive a team. There were Dorothy, Nan, Freddie, Flossie, and Bert in the cart when they rode along the sandy driveway, and they made a very pretty party in their bright summer costumes. Freddie had hold of Doodle's reins, and he insisted that his horse went along better than did Dandy, on the other side.
"Oh, won't Nellie enjoy this!" cried Nan, thinking of the little city girl who had only had one carriage ride in all her life.
"Mrs. Manily is going up to the city to bring her to-day," said Bert. "Aunt Emily sent for the depot wagon just as we came out."
Like many people at the seashore, the Minturns did not keep their own horses, but simply had to telephone from their house to the livery stable when they wanted a carriage.
"Oh, I see the ocean!" called out Freddie, as Bert drove nearer the noise of the waves. "Why didn't we bring Downy for his swim?"
"Too early to bathe yet!" said Dorothy. "We have a bathing house all to ourselves,—papa rented it for the summer,—and about eleven o'clock we will come down and take a dip. Mamma always comes with me or sends Susan, our maid. Mamma cannot believe I really know how to swim."
"And do you?" asked Nan, in surprise.
"Wait until you see!" replied the cousin. "And I am going to teach you, too."
"I'd love to know how, but it must be awfully hard to learn," answered Nan.
"Not a bit," went on Dorothy; "I learned in one week. We have a pool just over there, and lots of girls are learning every day. You can drive right along the beach, Bert; the donkeys are much safer than horses and never attempt to run away."
How delightful it was to ride so close to the great rolling ocean! Even Freddie stopped exclaiming, and just watched the waves, as one after another they tried to get right under Dorothy's cart.
"It makes me almost afraid!" faltered little Flossie, as the great big waves came up so high out on the waters, they seemed like mountains that would surely cover up the donkey cart. But when they "broke" on the sands they were only little splashy puddles for babies to wash their pink toes in.
"There's Blanche Bowden," said Dorothy, as another little cart, a pony cart, came along. "We have lovely times together. I have invited her up to meet us this afternoon, Nan."
The other girl bowed pleasantly from her cart, and even Freddie remembered to raise his cap, something he did not always think necessary for "just girls."
"Some afternoon our dancing class is going to have a matinée," said Dorothy. "Do you like dancing, Bert?"
"Some," replied her cousin in a boy's indifferent way. "Nan is a good dancer."
"Oh, we don't have real dances," protested Nan; "they are mostly drills and exercises. Mamma doesn't believe in young children going right into society. She thinks we will be old soon enough."
"We don't have grown-up dances," said Dorothy, "only the two-step and minuet. I think the minuet is the prettiest of all dances."
"We have had the varsovienne," said Nan, "that is like the minuet. Mother says they are old-time dances, but they are new in our class."
"We may have a costume affair next month," went on Dorothy. "Some of the girls want it, but I don't like wigs and long dresses, especially for dancing. I get all tangled up in a train dress."
"I never wore one," said Nan, "excepting at play, and I can't see how any girl can dance with a lot of long skirts dangling around."
"Oh, they mostly bow and smile," put in Bert, "and a boy has to be awfully careful at one of those affairs. If he should step on a skirt there surely would be trouble," and he snapped his whip at the donkeys with the air of one who had little regard for the graceful art of dancing.
"We had better go back now," said Dorothy, presently. "You haven't had a chance to see our own place yet, but I thought you wanted to get acquainted with the ocean first. Everybody does!"
"I have enjoyed it so much!" declared Nan. "It is pleasanter now than when the sun grows hot."
"But we need the sun for bathing," Dorothy told her. "That is why we 'go in' at the noon hour."
The drive back to the Cliff seemed very short, and when the children drove up to the side porch they found Mrs. Bobbsey and Aunt Emily sitting outside with their fancy work.
Freddie could hardly find words to tell his mother how big the ocean was, and Flossie declared the water ran right into the sky it was so high.
"Now, girls," said Aunt Emily, "Mrs. Manily has gone to bring Nellie down, so you must go and arrange her room. I think the front room over Nan's will be best. Now get out all your pretty things, Dorothy, for little Nellie may be lonely and want some things to look at."
"All right, mother," answered Dorothy, letting Bert put the donkeys away, "we'll make her room look like—like a valentine," she finished, always getting some fun in even where very serious matters were concerned.
The two girls, with Flossie looking on, were soon very busy with Nellie's room.
"We must not make it too fussy," said Dorothy, "or Nellie may not feel at home; and we certainly want her to enjoy herself. Will we put a pink or blue set on the dresser?"
"Blue," said Nan, "for I know she loves blue. She said so when we picked violets at Meadow Brook."
"All right," agreed Dorothy. "And say! let's fix up something funny! We'll get all the alarm clocks in the house and set them so they will go off one after the other, just when Nellie gets to bed, say about nine o'clock. We'll hide them so she will just about find one when the other starts! She isn't really sick, is she?" Dorothy asked, suddenly remembering that the visitor might not be in as good spirits as she herself was.
"Oh, no, only run down," answered Nan, "and I'm sure she would enjoy the joke."
So the girls went on fixing up the pretty little room. Nan ran downstairs and brought up Nettie Prentice's flowers.
"I thought they would do someone good," she said. "They are so fragrant."
"Aren't they!" Dorothy said, burying her pretty nose in the white lilies. "They smell better than florists' bouquets. I suppose that's from the country air. Now I'll go collect clocks," and without asking anyone's permission Dorothy went from room to room, snatching alarm clocks from every dresser that held one.
"Susan's is a peach," she told Nan, apologizing with a smile, for the slang. "It goes off for fifteen minutes if you don't stop it, and it sounds like a church bell."
"Nellie will think she has gotten into college," Nan said, laughing. "This is like hazing, isn't it?"
"Only we won't really annoy her," said Dorothy. "We just want to make her laugh. College boys, they say, do all sorts of mean things. Make a boy swim in an icy river and all that."
"I hope Bert never goes to a school where they do hazing," said Nan, feeling for her brother's safety. "I think such sport is just wicked!"
"So do I," declared Dorothy, "and if I were a new fellow, and they played such tricks on me, I would just wait for years if I had to, to pay them back."
"I'd put medicine in their coffee, or do something."
"They ought to be arrested," Nan said, "and if the professors can't stop it they should not be allowed to run such schools."
"There," said Dorothy, "I guess everything is all right for Nellie." She put a rose jar on a table in the alcove window. "Now I'll wind the clocks. You mustn't look where I put them," and she insisted that not even Nan should know the mystery of the clocks. "This will be a real surprise party," finished Dorothy, having put each of five clocks in its hiding place, and leaving the tick-ticks to think it over, all by themselves, before going off.