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Wed, 24 Jun 2009
What a time was had when Imogen Came to Tea at Katy Carr's.

Kayleigh of Q Gardens



IMOGEN COMES TO TEA
by Susan Coolidge
the author of the "Katy" books.

Imogen Comes to
Tea

     "Aunt Izzie, may I ask Imogen Clark to spend the day here on Saturday?" cried Katy, bursting in one afternoon.
"Who on earth is Imogen Clark?" I never heard the name before," replied her aunt.
"Oh, the loveliest  girl! She hasn't been going to Mrs Knight's school but a little while, but we're the greatest friends. And she's perfectly beautiful, Aunt Izzie. Her hands are just as white as snow, and no bigger that that. She's got the littlest waist of any girl in school, and she's really is sweet, and so self denying and unselfish! I don't believe she has a bit good times at home, either. Do let me ask her to come, Aunt Izzie!"
    "How do you know she is so sweet and denying if you've only known her such a short time?" Asked Aunt Izzie, in an uncompromising tone.
   "Oh, she tells me everything! We always walk together at recess now. I know all about her, and she's just lovely! Her father used to be real rich, but they're poor now, and Imogen had to have her boots patched twice last winter. I guess she's the flower of her family. You can't think how I love her!" concluded Katy sentimentally.
   "No I can't," said Aunt Izzie. "I never could see these sudden friendships of yours, Katy, and I'd rather you wouldn't invite this Imogen, or what ever her name is, till I've had a chance to ask somebody about her."
  Katy clasped her hands in despair. "Oh Aunt Izzie!" she cried, "Imogen knows that I came in to ask you, and she's standing at the gate at this moment, waiting to hear what you say. Please let me just this once! I shall be so dreadfully ashamed not to."
 "Well," said Aunt Izzie, moved by the wretchedness of Katy's face, "If you have asked her already it's no use my saying no, I suppose. But recollect Katy, this is not to happen again. I can't have you inviting girls, and then coming for my leave. Your father won't be at all pleased. He's very particular about whom you make friends with. Remember how Mrs. Spenser turned out"
   Poor Katy she was always getting herself into scrapes, with her taking to people so easily. Ever since she began to walk and talk "Katy's intimate friends" had been one of the jokes of the household.
Papa once undertook to keep a list of them, but the number grew so great that he had to give up in despair. First on the list was a small Irish child, named Marianne O'Riley. Marianne lived in a street which Katy passed by on the way to school. It was not Mrs. Knight's but an A B C school to which Doris and John went now. Marianne used to be always making sand-pies in front of her mother's house, and Katy, who was about five years old, often stopped to help her. Over this mutual pastry dish they grew so intimate that Katy resolved to adopt Marianne as her own little girl, and bring her up in a safe and hidden corner.
     She told Clover of this plan but nobody else. The two children ful of delight at their secret, began to save pieces of bread and biscuits from their supper every evening. By degrees they collected a great heap of dry crusts, and other refreshments, which they put safely away in the attic. They also saved apples they were given for two weeks, and made a bed in a big empty box, with cotton quilts, and the doll's pillows out of the baby house. When all was ready Katy broke the plan to her beloved Marianne, and easily persuaded her to run away and take possession of this new home.
   "We won't tell Papa and Mamma till she's quite grown up, Katy," said Clover; "Then we'll bring her downstairs, and won't they be surprised! Don't let's call her Marianne any longer, either. It isn't pretty. We'll name her Susquehanna instead - Susquehanna Carr. Recollect, Marianne, you mustn't answer if I call you Marianne, only when I say Susquehanna."
"Yes'm," replied Marianne, very meekly.
   For a whole day all went on delightfully. Susquehanna lived in her wooden box, ate all the apples and the freshest of the biscuits, and was happy.                                                    
 
The two children took it in turn to steal away and play with "the baby"  as they called Marianne, even though she was a good deal bigger than Clover. But when night came and nurse came and swooped on Katy and Clover and carried them off to bed, Little Miss O'Riley began to think that the attic was a dreadful place. Peeping out of the corner of the box she could see black things standing in the corners, which she couldn't remember seeing in the daytime. They were really dark trunks and brooms and warming pans, but somehow in the darkness they looked different, big and awful. Poor little Marianne bore it as long as she could; but when at last a rat began to scratch in the wall close besides her, her courage gave way entirely, and she screamed at the top of her voice.                                                
"What on earth was that?" said Dr. Carr, who had just come in, and was on his way upstairs. "It sounds as if it came from the attic." said Mrs Carr, (for this was before Mamma died). "Can it be one of the children has got out of bed and wandered upstairs in her sleep?" No, Katy and Clover were safe in the nursery, so Dr. Carr took a candle and went to the attic as fast as he could, where the howls were growing louder. When he reached the top of the stairs the cries ceased. He looked about. Nothing was to be seen at first, then a little head appeared over the edge of the big wooden box, and a piteous voice sobbed out:               
"Ah
, Miss Katy, and indeed I can't be staying her any longer. There's rats in it!"
Poor
Susquehanna.....
"Who on earth are you?" asked the amazed doctor.
"Sure but I'm Miss Katy's and Miss Clover's baby. But I don't want to be a baby any longer. I want to go home and see my mother." And again the poor little midge lifted up her voice and wept.
Posted 20:35

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