Chapter 21626118

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleA Little List.
Chapter Url
Full Date1902-07-19
Page Number129
Word Count2627
Last Corrected2010-07-29
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleMore about Misrule
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CHAPTER VI.—A Little List.


"Two added to one—if that could be done," It said, "with one's fingers and thumbs." —The Hunting of the Snark. "Oh, Esther, do beg him; oh, I am just

longing to have it—I'll never be nineteen again, and that's the most important age of all—up to eighteen you're a child to a certain extent, but at nineteen you are really and truly a woman." This from Nellie who, four years ago, had insisted that fifteen was " grown up." "But a dance would be so dreadfully ex-   pensive, Nell," Esther said, "I am really afraid to think of it. Wouldn't a little tennis party do? Afternoon tea is a mere nothing, and you could have ices to make it more festive than usual." " A tennis party, and with one court, and the grounds in the state they are!" Nellie looked at Esther reproachfully. "Well, a moonlight picnic or a gypsy tea to some new place," begged Esther. " Qh, Essie, if you knew how I'd set my heart on a dance," said Nellie. I'd be as economical afterwards as possible and help you make tons of jam to save the grocer's bill, and help with the sewing instead of getting in Miss Grey. I'll even go without the new dress you said I could have ! Oh do beg him to, Esther." " I must say I'm frightened at the prospect," Esther said; "just think of the terrible up- set and expense there was at Meg's wedding— apart from the frocks it would be nearly as bad. This is a most inconvenient house for entertaining." But we would have it much simpler than at the wedding," pleaded Nell, "and the boys and Poppet and I would do nearly every thing." In came the boys and Poppet, and Essie and the beautiful plan was laid open to their criticism. " You go to whips of dances about here," said Bunty, " one would think you got enough   of it. Let other people pay for them and you go and enjoy them, that's my advice. And spend what it would have cost on that bike at Green's, Nell,—it's at real A-oner," " Thank you," said Nellie, " but if I ever do   get a bicycle, Bunty, I shan't trouble you to choose it. Of all battered, disreputable speci- mens yours and Poppet's are about the worst." " Looks aren't everything," said Bunty, but he flushed a little. The machines were not all the man had painted them or that they had seemed at his own inexperienced examination of them; they were clumsy, heavy things com- pared with the models of the hour, and took an immense amount of strength to get them over the hills. Also they had given way in several parts, and there being no pocket-money available to either owner for six months, hey were mended when practicable with string or wire. "I wouldn't ride any other—mine's just per-     fection," Poppet said warmly, and truly felt so. She had come to have the feeling for the dumb   and shabby, steel thing that one often gets for a long-used favourite horse.   " I don't know that it isn't about time we did give something, Esther," Pip said; "we are always getting invitations to something or   other, and it's precious little we give in return." ? This made Esther consider it more carefully; hospitable claims must be fulfilled. You were always welcome to drop into Misrule to tea or   dinner, though the chances were you would only get a very plain, meal; and picnics were frequent and free; but copy its neighbours and indulge in big "evenings" and dances this house had never done. "Think how shabby the furniture is," said Esther, glancing round. "At night it never shows—we can do won- ders with flowers and draperies," said Nell eagerly, for Esther's tone showed signs of softening. "What would be the Mantilinian total?" said Pip. "I suppose it's the supper that's the great crux." "Yea, that's it," sighed Nell; "what do people want supper for? As long as I had a glass or two of lemonade at a dance I wouldn't care if there was no supper-room at all. The dancing is the great thing." "Oh, that's all very well for a girl," Pip said, " but a man has to eat to dance, though he may not dance to eat. The older I grow the more necessary I find it to keep two spaces on the programme to myself, and go and have a good plate of beef and salad before I tackle the second half of the programme."   " That's because you'll never stop being a school-boy," said Nell, her nose in the air. "Real men don't think of things like that." Her thoughts went to a "real man" who had lately appeared on her horizon.   " Don't you make any mistake," said Pip, "when I was a kid I just went for the most bilious-looking trifle and cakes on the table, and gulped them down after I'd finished scrambling for jelly for the girls, and then I'd cut back to the ballroom so as not to keep a partner waiting. I'm wiser now, that's all." " If we could get an idea of the cost," said Esther. " That was a frightful bill from the caterer after Meg's wedding. Your father almost had a fit. I simply dare not broach the notion to him." " We would have everything most simple," said Nell. "But you must have enough," said Pip. " Get a sheet of paper, Bunty—you're best at figures," said Nell. "Now let's all put our heads together and see how little we can do it for. How much do you think you could get out   of him, Esther?" Esther looked distressed. "He has just had to pay the butcher's bill—fourteen pounds —for me," she said; "I got so badly behind with last quarter's accounts." "The sole right of serial publication in Queensland has been secured by the proprie- tors of the " Queenslander."

"Whew" said Pip, " and then twenty for my bike." " And nine pounds to me," said Bunty. " I   think it will be jolly rough on him if you ask him for a red cent—he's not made of gold." Nelly looked miserable. "If we only have very little one, Essie,     and a very simple supper, don't you think you could manage it out of the housekeeping money?" she said. " Yes, there's something in that," assented Pip. "Couldn't you make the things your- selves?"     " You all seem to think that things that can go down on the grocer's bill cost nothing," said Esther. " But let us think what we'll need. Tea, coffee, lemonade——" "We must have claret cup, " Nell said, "but that is very cheap. Six bottles, will make those two art bowls full—you can put such a lot of water and lemons, to it." " It will be strictly non-intoxicating, made by Nellie's, recipe, so I needn't object," laughed Esther. "Put down nine shillings for the claret, Bunty—eighteen-pence a bottle is good enough for that." Bunty groaned as he wrote down this figures. " It would pay for a cyclometer and a lamp," he said. "Now eatables: sandwiches, cakes, trifles, jellies," said Nellie; " that's all." "Fruit," said Bunty. "Fruit salad," exclaimed Poppet, "and let me make it." " Fortunately we are getting a good deal of   cream it present," Esther said comfortingly. " Sweets— we'd have to have little plates of chocolates and things," said Nellie, "but I can make date creams and French jellies, so I dare say five shillings would cover that ex- pense." " I think you ought to have a joint or two on the sideboard for the men," said Pip ; "meat's, cheap—I'm not even suggesting poultry."     "Well, I'll give you a big round of corned beef, and a lot of good salad. You can under- take the dressing, Nell, Martha is apt to get it curdled."       " Let there be enough trifle," said Bunty; " I don't want to ask some girl to have some and then go and find it's all gone, like I did at Poppet's party."     "Fruit," said Either. "There are only apples and pears left in the orchard. Do you think with some bananas and oranges that would do? Very few care for fruit late at night." "We can get passion fruit from the Court- neys," said Nellie; "there's a fence covered with it, and no one eating them, and we can put them in custard-glasses with whipped, cream on top. I'm afraid we can't venture on ices or ice-creams, can we ? They're lovely, I always think, and seem to give quite a differ- ent tone to a dance. Don't you think we could ? It hardly comes to anything yet, does it, Bunty?" " They are so very dear, and you want such a lot," said Esther; " and then there are plates and spoons extra—as it is, I'm afraid we shall have to hire some crockery and glasses. It is very seldom we have more than one dozen unbroken tumblers in the house at one time." " Tell you," said Peter," get the man that comes round with the bugle, he gives you an awful lot for a penny—red or yellow or pink in a big egg-cup. Me and Essie— " " What's this?" demanded Esther; "have you been buying from that man after what I told you? Dirty, unwholesome stuff, made no one knows where !" "It didn't hurt as," said Peter consolingly, " and it isn't a bit dirty, is, it, Ess ? We only, had a ha'penny, too, between us so we didn't get much. But I should think for half-a- crown he'd give you all in his cart, and lend you the egg-cups too." " I'm afraid even that would be too dear at the price," laughed Esther; "no, Nell, we will let ices strictly alone."           "Very well," sighed Nellie.         " Add up, cashier," said Esther.   Bunty figured away. "Four pounds seven shillings," he said, " sheer, downright waste. Why you could go for a tour down the, South Coast, and get a free-wheel put on to your machine into the bargain."     "Four pounds seven," said Esther thought- fully. Pip felt in his pockets, drew out a handful of money and counted it. " Three pounds," he said; " I'm afraid I'll have to keep one back to keep me going to the end of the quarter. But you can have the other two." There was a brief outburst of admiration at his generosity. "I've only seventeen-and-six left in my al- lowance," Nell said, " but I can put all that; I'll just manage with my old shoes and gloves, and not waste money on boat-fares and trams." Bunty and Poppet looked at each other un- happily; their hands were so tied with their debt. " If some one will lend me some, and wait to be paid till the bike man's finished with, I could give some of the next half-year's pocket- money," Bunty began. "No, you've done quite enough; you can stand out of this," Pip said shortly. He thought more than he said about that bicycle of Poppet's when he remembered it had not even occurred to him to try to save out of his twenty pounds. Essie gave a joyful skip. "You can have our pounds that we got for tipping out the boat," she said. Peter added a clause to the generous offer. "Only then all the supper what's over is ours," he said. The family gently rejected this splendid donation, and reminded the offerers about the tricycles that the toy-shop still held. " Two-seventeen-six in hand," said Bunty. Nellie blushed a little. "If you hear father mentioning anything about a birthday present, Esther—he did begin to say something about that little, sweet little brooch I'd been looking at in Hardy's—you might " she paused. " Just mention to him that a small cheque would meet with more favour," finished Esther. "Very well." "Girls are queer cattle," Bunty said; "you don't catch me offering my birthday presents for other people to eat up," "Two pounds seventeen-and-six, and a small and only prospective cheque—it isn't very much." said Esther, "but I suppose it

must be managed. You shall have it, chickens."   Nellie's eyes were lustrous. "Now let us think of what dances we'll have," she said; " nearly all waltzes and lancers, eh?" "Oh," said Poppet, ecstatically, "little pro- grammes and tassels and pencils! Let me give them out."     Nell's eyes lost their lustre. We forgot to count the programmes," she said in some con- sternation," and the pencils and the cards— oh, dear !" Esther made another imaginary dip into the allowance her father made her yearly, and that she quietly applied to so many needs besides her own. "I'll undertake the pencils and cords," she said, " and we could buy those gilt-edged correspondence-cards, fold them double, and you and Meg could etch or paint some pretty designs on them, Nell."       Nellie gave her hand a squeeze. "You always were a brick, Essie," she said. "Now, how many shall we ask ? With all the furni- ture out and the folding doors open there's a really lot of room. How many do you think ?" "Thirty?" said Esther; fifteen couples,   not counting ourselves ?" " Oh, Esther, that would be a few—fifty at least—we might ask sixty or seventy, there are sure to be some refusals. Fifty would be just a nice number." " Precious little room to dance," said Bunty. "I need an awful lot of room myself to turn a girl well round in."     "Oh, with a garden and a staircase and the verandas there'll be plenty of space," said Pip. " We'll fix op some nice select little sitting- out nooks, Nell, and they will take off the superfluous population." "Supper in the breakfast-room—only it is so small and shabby. Men, Pip's room for coats and boots; girls, yours or mine, Nell," medi- ated Esther. "We'll borrow a lot of bunting from the bar- racks; if father won't go to the trouble of asking for it I'll ask Colonel Holcombe," said Nell. "Chinese lanterns on the trees all over     the garden—they are very cheap. Oh, won't it all look lovely!" "Fireworks !" cried Peter; "oh, mother, we can have fireworks, can't we ? Catherine- wheels fixed on to all the trees, and I'll go round lighting the., We'll get them out of our pounds."       "And me," said Essie jealously; "I can light half, can't I, movie?" " My dear little chickens, you will both have to be in bed," said Esther. " 'Tisn't your funeral," said Bunty. Nellie comforted them lovingly. She would make them the loveliest little party in the world the next day with all the things left over. They should have it under the trees, and ask three children each to it. " I pick to ask Jack next door," cried Essie, speedily assuaged.   "She isn't to, is she, mother?" said Peter; " he's my friend. He never asks you in to see his dog eat a rat." "He does, he would," contended Essie; " you had to give him all your piece of cocoa- nut—if I hadn't eaten mine he'd have let me come too."     " Wouldn't," said Peter; " he said you were only a girl. Yah!" They went away to quarrel undisturbed, Esther entering a shuddering protest at this point.       (To be continued.)