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"I am afraid we will be stung by the bees," said Amelia.
"Bumblebees never sting," said Lily; and Amelia believed her.
When the foot-path ended, there was the riverbank. The two little girls sat down under a clump of brook willows and talked, while the river, full of green and blue and golden lights, slipped past them and never stopped.
Then Lily proceeded to unfold a plan, which was not philosophical, but naughtily ingenious. By this time Lily knew very well that Amelia admired her, and imitated her as successfully as possible, considering the drawback of dress and looks.
When she had finished Amelia was quite pale. "I am afraid, I am afraid, Lily," said she.
"My mother will find out; besides, I am afraid it isn't right."
"Who ever told you it was wrong?"
"Nobody ever did," admitted Amelia.
"Well, then you haven't any reason to think it is," said Lily, triumphantly. "And how is your mother ever going to find it out?"
"I don't know."
"Isn't she ill in her room? And does she ever come to kiss you good night, the way my mother does, when she is well?"
"No," admitted Amelia.
"And neither of your grandmothers?"
"Grandmother Stark would think it was silly, like mother, and Grandmother Wheeler can't go up and down stairs very well."
"I can't see but you are perfectly safe. I am the only one that runs any risk at all. I run a great deal of risk, but I am willing to take it," said Lily with a virtuous air. Lily had a small but rather involved scheme simply for her own ends, which did not seem to call for much virtue, but rather the contrary.
Lily had overheard Arnold Carruth and Johnny Trumbull and Lee Westminster and another boy, Jim Patterson, planning a most delightful affair, which even in the cases of the boys was fraught with danger, secrecy, and doubtful rectitude. Not one of the four boys had had a vacation from the village that summer, and their young minds had become charged, as it were, with the seeds of revolution and rebellion. Jim Patterson, the son of the rector, and of them all the most venturesome, had planned to take -- he called it "take"; he meant to pay for it, anyway, he said, as soon as he could shake enough money out of his nickel savings-bank -- one of his father's Plymouth Rock chickens and have a chickenroast in the woods back of Dr. Trumbull's. He had planned for Johnny to take some ears of corn suitable for roasting from his father's garden; for Lee to take some cookies out of a stone jar in his mother's pantry; and for Arnold to take some potatoes. Then they four would steal forth under cover of night, build a camp-fire, roast their spoils, and feast.
Lily had resolved to be of the party. She resorted to no open methods; the stones of the fighting suffragettes were not for her, little honey-sweet, curled, and ruffled darling; rather the time-worn, if not time-sanctified, weapons of her sex, little instruments of wiles, and tiny dodges, and tiny subterfuges, which would serve her best.
"You know," she said to Amelia, "you don't look like me. Of course you know that, and that can't be helped; but you do walk like me, and talk like me, you know that, because they call you 'CopyCat.'"
"Yes, I know," said poor Amelia.
"I don't mind if they do call you 'Copy-Cat,'" said Lily, magnanimously. "I don't mind a bit. But, you see, my mother always comes up-stairs to kiss me good night after I have gone to bed, and tomorrow night she has a dinner-party, and she will surely be a little late, and I can't manage unless you help me. I will get one of my white dresses for you, and all you have to do is to climb out of your window into that cedar-tree -- you know you can climb down that, because you are so afraid of burglars climbing up -- and you can slip on my dress; you had better throw it out of the window and not try to climb in it, because my dresses tear awful easy, and we might get caught that way. Then you just sneak down to our house, and I shall be outdoors; and when you go up-stairs, if the doors should be open, and anybody should call, you can answer just like me; and I have found that light curly wig Aunt Laura wore when she had her head shaved after she had a fever, and you just put that on and go to bed, and mother will never know when she kisses you good night. Then after the roast I will go to your house, and climb up that tree, and go to bed in your room. And I will have one of your gingham dresses to wear, and very early in the morning I will get up, and you get up, and we both of us can get down the back stairs without being seen, and run home."
Amelia was almost weeping. It was her worshiped Lily's plan, but she was horribly scared. "I don't know," she faltered.
"Don't know! You've got to! You don't love me one single bit or you wouldn't stop to think about whether you didn't know." It was the world-old argument which floors love. Amelia succumbed.
The next evening a frightened little girl clad in one of Lily Jennings's white embroidered frocks was racing to the Jenningses' house, and another little girl, not at all frightened, but enjoying the stimulus of mischief and unwontedness, was racing to the wood behind Dr. Trumbull's house, and that little girl was clad in one of Amelia Wheeler's ginghams. But the plan went all awry.
Lily waited, snuggled up behind an alder-bush, and the boys came, one by one, and she heard this whispered, although there was no necessity for whispering, "Jim Patterson, where's that hen?"
"Couldn't get her. Grabbed her, and all her tailfeathers came out in a bunch right in my hand, and she squawked so, father heard. He was in his study writing his sermon, and he came out, and if I hadn't hid behind the chicken-coop and then run I couldn't have got here. But I can't see as you've got any corn, Johnny Trumbull."
"Couldn't. Every single ear was cooked for dinner."
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Freeman's Short Stories -by- Mary E. Wilkins Freeman