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IV Angelina’s Valentine
The ten cent store was the first to show valentines. On the very first day of February, its windows were filled with bright red hearts and wonderful pictures made with lacy gilt papers. Some were of little birds and some were of little boys and little girls, and there was one that showed a sleek gray pussy-cat like the one that belonged to the Parillo family. Twice a day, coming to school and returning home, Maria, Louisa and Angelina passed by the beautiful valentines in that window.

“Maria,” begged Louisa, “let us go in—just a little minute! We need not go right home today!”

“Please,” wheedled Angelina. “Please, Maria, do let us!”

“Valentine’s Day is still a long way off,” returned Maria. “There is work to be done[Pg 52] at home. I must see to the fire and wash and iron Angelina’s dress and then get supper. We cannot stop.” This was the way it happened every afternoon that the three little Italian girls passed homeward from school. It was Maria who had taken her mother’s place. She was the mother of the family now. Was it not she who cooked, washed, cleaned? Was it not she who with twelve years of wisdom governed Louisa and Angelina? Did not her father trust her to do the marketing? Maria with her duties at home was superior to valentines. Valentines were meant for children. Maria was duty bound, and so every day the three little Parillos marched past the ten cent store without stopping to go in. They lived in the three rooms of the brown tenement on the outskirts of the town. There was a corner to turn after one had passed by the ten cent store. Often Louisa and little Angelina hung back and peeped in at the valentines, waiting till Maria should reach the corner. Then they dashed after her lest she turn and scold, “Angelina and Louisa, come at once! There is no time to loiter. The fire in the stove will have gone out if you do not[Pg 53] hurry. It will take time to build another and the rooms will be cold—come, I say!”

“We saw them,” Louisa would announce, almost out of breath, quite as if Maria were interested. “If I were rich and had money I would buy the valentine that is beautiful with red roses. I would give it to my teacher at school.”

“And I would buy more than one,” Angelina would smile. “There is one of a pussy-cat like ours. I would give it to Marguerite Santos and I would give her many others beside.”

“The idea!” Maria interrupted. “Marguerite Santos! The unmannerly child! She is a class behind you in school and you do not know her. The Santos think themselves better than the Parillos and they will not let her play with you—all because their father has a fruit store with candy and peanuts and a telephone!”

“It is because Angelina has the cross teacher this year that she wants to give valentines to Marguerite,” suggested Louisa. “Her teacher is not nice and Marguerite has a beautiful red plush cloak—”

[Pg 54]“She smiles at me,” defended Angelina. “I like her. I would like to know her and play with her. I do not think she is at all unmannerly, Maria.”

But Maria was fitting the key into the home lock and she took her time to reply. As she hung over the kitchen stove to poke the slumbering fire, she gave it more than one dig. “The Santos child is unmannerly and I have seen it,” she insisted. “She did a most unmannerly thing only the other day as she passed by on the road here going homeward after school—”

Angelina’s eyes flashed. “Tell me,” she broke in, “tell me what it was, for I do not believe it!”

“She did! She said shoo, it was just like that: she said it to our good gray cat who was peacefully sleeping in the sun at the doorstone. It was very unmannerly to shoo our cat!”

Angelina sniffed. “That was nothing,” she defended, “I shoo cats, too. Marguerite likes cats even as I do, but I often say shoo, shoo! I do it to see the cat blink its eyes and look at me. Some cats will jump and run.[Pg 55] One does not know what they will do—and I have seen Louisa—”

But here Maria put a hand over Angelina’s mouth. “I do not care what Louisa has done,” she admonished. “Go get me the soap that is by the basin in the bedroom so that I may wash the dress. There is no use to start a quarrel. There is no money to buy valentines at all, either for Louisa’s teacher or for Marguerite Santos.”

But if the subject of valentines subsided once in a while, it was sure to start again on the next day when Maria, Louisa and Angelina passed homeward by the wonderful windows of the ten cent store. There was never time to stop. Only a hasty glimpse did Louisa and Angelina snatch. Oh, the joy of going into the store to see the piles of candy on the candy counter! Oh, the happiness of gazing at bright colored ribbons and wonderful toys! And the valentines that lay on the counter in hundreds, what fun to see them, even though one could not spend money to buy any! Alas!

But it happened that Angelina had received a good mark in spelling on the day[Pg 56] before Valentine’s Day and Maria wished to reward it. “I promised,” she said. “It is true, Angelina—tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day, you and Louisa may stop at the store and go in while I go home. You may stay till the sun sets, but no longer. Today I must hurry home and I need you to help with the sweeping.”

The gray cat was on the doorstep in the sun as they reached the brown tenement by the roadside. Angelina lifted it in her arms and Maria turned the key in the lock. They were home again. Tomorrow would be the great day to visit the store and see all of its splendor. That night she dreamed of beautiful valentines and of Marguerite Santos’ red plush cloak.

The morning of Valentine’s Day dawned with pink and gold happiness of sunlight. On the way to school, Louisa and Angelina sang and when school was out they dashed into worn brown cloaks and caps to wait for Maria, who took her time gathering books and pencils for home-work at night. “Hurry, hurry!” they implored. “It is four o’clock. The sun will set by half past four and there[Pg 57] will be no time to see the valentines!” And so Maria hurried. At the ten cent store they left her—joy!

Hand in hand they pressed into the crowd. “See, Louisa!” and “Look, Angelina!” they called to each other every minute. But it was Angelina who caught the first glimpse of the valentines. There at the counter was the beautiful red plush cloak of Marguerite Santos bending over the valentines!

Together they pressed past the other children who stood behind that beautiful red plush cloak and they craned their necks to see the valentines as Marguerite Santos, absorbed in the selection of the most beautiful one to be had, turned them over one by one. But there was no envy in the heart of Louisa and Angelina as they watched. It was happiness that was there—of course, if one had been rich like Marguerite Santos—but how nice it was to be where they were! How gay the music of the pianola sounded! Wasn’t it amusing to watch Marguerite Santos buy valentines! But right here she took up the one of the gray pussy-cat!

Angelina nudged Louisa. “See, see!” she[Pg 58] whispered. “She likes the pussy-cat. It is not true what Maria said. She is not unmannerly at all. I would like to speak to her and ask her to come to play with me—she has smiled at me many times when I have met her—”

But Louisa shook her head hard. “You must not speak,” she insisted. “Maybe she would not like to have you see what it was that she bought.”

So, when Marguerite Santos wedged her way out of the crowd, she saw neither Angelina nor Louisa. She held her valentine of the pussy-cat tight in its big white envelope—tight upon the front of her red plush cloak. She was concerned with the care of it, lest some rude person bump into her and injure it.

Louisa and Angelina waited a moment and then drifted out of the door after her. The sky was all red and gold with the sunset. It was like some wonderfully bright valentine card, so beautiful! As they turned the corner in the dusky twilight and came upon the doorstone of the brown house that was home, there knelt the beautiful red plush cloak[Pg 59] of Marguerite Santos! She was laying the valentine upon the step and was about to knock and run away!

It was Angelina who caught her as she turned. Louisa was lagging behind, with her eyes on the first evening star that flamed white in the sky.

“Is it really for me?” asked Angelina. With an arm around the beautiful red plush cloak of Marguerite Santos, she smiled at the big white envelope that lay unopened on the stone. “I guess that it is a picture of a pussy-cat like ours,” she beamed. “I have no valentine to give you but I have always liked you, Marguerite, and I have wanted you to like me. Could I not give you a share of our gray cat as a valentine, maybe? I know that you, too, like cats, though you have none.”

But here, Louisa caught up and the door opened.

“It was very mannerly of you to bring Angelina the valentine,” spoke Maria. “I thank you. Will you not come in and play for a while? It must be lonely to have no brothers and sisters. We would like you for[Pg 60] our friend, even though we have no candy or peanuts or telephone. Angelina has for a long time wanted to know you, Marguerite Santos.”

Buttinski, Peacemaker

THE MARCH SURPRISE

There was a St. Patrick’s Day shamrock favor in the pocket that was labelled:

“Open on the 17th of March at 6 A. M.”

Marjorie was afraid she might oversleep and so miss opening that pocket entirely till the next March 17th should come around. But Dotty saw to that. She was always wide awake, bright and early. She woke Marjorie up even before 6 A. M.

The story pocket that came next was marked:

    “Open in March when the wind blows hard and you have to stay indoors.”

As March came in like a lamb, Dotty kept putting off the reading of this story to tease Marjorie. When Marjorie begged to know if she might open it, Dot would chuckle. “The wind doesn’t blow hard enough yet,” she would say.

But finally it did blow so hard that Marjorie insisted. Then, together, they read the story of “Buttinski, Peacemaker.”

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