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V Buttinski, Peacemaker
Nobody would have expected it of them. They were the very best of friends, and Miss Allen, who was the grade teacher, used to call them David and Jonathan.

When mental arithmetic and English classes had head and foot, Laura and Mary made it a point not to know answers of questions that came to them. So they kept together at the foot of the class, side by side. Miss Allen never said a word to them or to anybody else, but she understood. Then the classes stopped having head and foot. But she let them sit side by side. Even their desks were together.

Mary was always ready to laugh at a joke. Laura couldn’t even see one a mile off. That was how the trouble started and how little Betty Peters started to play peacemaker.[Pg 64] Everybody called Betty Peters “Buttinski” because she was always as interested in other people’s affairs as she was in her own—perhaps a little too much interested. She would interrupt conversations and ask “What’re you talking about?” Some of the girls resented it.

It was in beginning German that Betty Peters sat next to Mary. Laura took French and wasn’t in the class at all. She did not know one word of German from another. It used to be one of Mary’s jokes to pretend that she could speak fluently so she would rattle off a long string of vocabulary with conversational intonations to make Laura believe she knew a great deal. Of course, Laura only half believed, though she didn’t understand the joke. Sometimes she really thought that it was a German conversation and she didn’t like to have Mary talk German to her because she did not study it and couldn’t understand. Betty Peters always helped Mary. She used to enjoy the fun.

But one day, it ceased to be fun. Laura always was a little jealous of Betty Peters. She used to wait at the door of the German[Pg 65] room with Mary’s lunch-box because she herself had a study-hour just before recess and she could be there as soon as Mary’s class was dismissed. Then Mary would always call out to Betty Peters a long list of German words that meant nothing and Betty Peters would reply. On the memorable Friday when this stopped being amusing, Laura was there waiting when the two came out. Mary had been full of mischief that day. “Promise not to tell—I’m going to have a joke,” she whispered as the class filed out into the hall, Betty behind her.

Laura caught the words and saw Betty’s nod of promise. Then Mary launched out, “Die, der, der, die; das, des, dem, das,” she jabbered to Betty. Of course, everybody knows that this is feminine and neuter declension of the definite article, but Laura thought it was something confidential and jumped to the conclusion that it was a personal remark about her.

She turned upon her heel and walked straight off downstairs. Mary simply hooted with laughter and ran after her, but the harder she and Betty Peters laughed, the[Pg 66] more indignant Laura grew. She put Mary’s lunch-box down upon a bench and left it and pushed Mary’s hand off her shoulder. Mary fell back to get the box. “You’ve done it!” declared Betty Peters.

“Nonsense!” replied Mary. “She ought to know I was just joking. Maybe she’s merely pretending to be angry.” But she wasn’t at all sure.

“I think she is really angry,” insisted Betty Peters.

“Well, what could she think I said?” inquired Mary. “I didn’t say anything at all.”

“Perhaps she thought you said something about her—”

“She ought to know me better,” declared Mary. Then she carried her lunch-box to the lunch-room with Betty Peters. There was a crowd there. At first they did not see Laura but when they did, there was no chance to reach her in the crowd. “She did that on purpose,” suggested Betty Peters. Mary called to her, but either Laura didn’t hear or pretended not to, even though some of the other girls spoke to her and Betty Peters was sure Laura must have been aware of the calls.[Pg 67] Such a thing as a quarrel between Mary and Laura had never before happened. Nobody knew what to make of it. Mary was mortified and determined to reach Laura so as to explain and make it all right, but when Betty Peters and Mary reached her, Laura walked right in the opposite direction. Mary called after her that it was only a joke, but Laura was icy. So at last, Mary decided that Laura would have to find out for herself what “Die, der, der, die and das, des, dem, das” meant. “Two can play at that game,” she snapped, as Laura disappeared. “If she won’t speak to me, neither will I speak to her!” Betty Peters ate her lunch in the lunch-room but Mary took hers out into the garden. It was snowy there and she was all alone. It couldn’t have been a very nice place to eat lunch! Where Laura went, nobody knew. She was busy studying all the last part of the recreation period. When Mary came in as the bell rang, she never moved. Her back was twisted around toward Mary’s seat. Everybody in the class noticed it, but Miss Allen said nothing. Perhaps she thought that it would pass off by and by.

[Pg 68]But the next week they did not speak either! It was worse. Mary had to rub the chalk off the blackboard with her handkerchief because Laura, who was next to her, had the blackboard eraser; and Laura kept it on her side and Mary wouldn’t ask her for it. Miss Allen took Mary’s book to give to a visitor who came into history class, but Laura wouldn’t pass half of hers over to Mary. When Miss Allen saw that she said, “Laura!” in a sharp voice. So Laura put the book upon the desk between them and it stayed there. Nobody turned its pages.

At lunch hour, Mary avoided Betty Peters. Laura disappeared and Sallie Overton found her eating her lunch off on the studio stairs—away from everything. Mary ate hers alone in the cold garden. It must have been that Miss Allen realized how silly they were behaving, for she tried to set matters right. She found out from Betty where Mary was and she put on her long blue cloak and went into the garden after her. What happened in the garden, nobody knew, though some of the girls watched out of the windows and saw Miss Allen talking and Mary using a handkerchief.[Pg 69] They came in together. Sallie Overton told Miss Allen where Laura was and the class thought Miss Allen had talked to her, too. It was circulated that Miss Allen had asked them to meet each other and shake hands. But neither of them seemed to have done it, for in class things went on as on previous days. It seemed worse than a Chinese puzzle to solve the difficulty. Some of the girls talked to Mary and some talked to Laura and begged them to make it up. Both declared the other wrong and refused to take the first step. “Please,” begged Betty Peters, the Buttinski. “Please, Laura.” But still nothing happened. Both seemed to feel dreadfully. Both were about as blue as Blue Monday. Miss Allen took time from study hour and talked to the class about friendship and what it meant in terms of self-sacrifice, generosity and loyalty. Both Mary and Laura wept, but still, after dismission, they did not shake hands or speak. And both walked home alone every day.

Miss Allen was correcting papers at her desk as Betty Peters walked down the aisle to go home. Betty Peters seemed as depressed[Pg 70] as Miss Allen. Indeed, she almost acted as if she had been to blame for the whole thing and she tried and tried to get Mary to let her tell Laura what “Die, der, der, die and das, des, dem, das” meant. Mary wouldn’t let her tell. She said that Laura could find out herself.

“Well, Betty?” smiled Miss Allen, looking up from the papers she was correcting. It seemed to Betty almost as if Miss Allen were thinking of Laura and Mary. It sounded so.

“It seems a dreadfully hard problem to solve, if two halves are separated,” suggested Betty Peters, thoughtfully. She stopped beside Miss Allen’s desk and watched the blue pencil that was marking a cross upon Laura’s written work.

“Do you mean David and Jonathan?” inquired Miss Allen, with a twinkle in her eye as she looked at Betty.

Betty nodded.

“How did they go home?”

“On different sides of the street.”

“Oh.”

“It’s really dreadful, isn’t it—and they were such friends!”

[Pg 71]“I asked them to overlook the mistake and make it up without explanations—and with them, if need be.”

“But they won’t do it. The girls have tried to help and I’m sure I have, too!”

“Well,” smiled Miss Allen. “What’s at the bottom of it, do you know, Betty?”

Betty nodded. Then Miss Allen pushed aside the papers, “Frankly,” she said, “I don’t know what to do. They’re both such splendid girls but neither one of them will be the first to make an apology. They’re very childish, aren’t they?”

“It’s just a misunderstanding,” explained Betty. “I can tell you. It was all because Mary made a joke and Laura thought it was a personal one. Mary said ‘die, der, der, die and das, des, dem, das.’ Laura thought she said something about her to me. Mary wouldn’t let me explain. She said if Laura thought that, she’d have to find out what the words meant herself.”

“What sillies!” declared Miss Allen. “I suppose they’ll keep this up eternally. I’ve tried all manner of ways to stop it; have you anything to suggest, Betty?”

[Pg 72]Betty pondered. “I was wondering,” she mused, “whether if you counted three and told them both to speak when you came to that, they’d speak?”

“I never thought of that,” laughed Miss Allen. “We’ll try it.”

Next day, she did. She made both of the girls stand and she told each one to say, “I’m sorry” when she counted three and came to the end. It really was a disgrace to the class to have the quarrel go on and on. The girls thought it horrid. But when Miss Allen said, “Three,” all was silence. The two stood up in the class and neither said a word! The plan did not work! “Speak!” ordered Miss Allen—but there was nothing but silence.

But Miss Allen was not going to give up, “Mary,” said she, “you may decline for me the feminine and neuter of the definite article in German.”

Mary looked surprised but she said it, “‘die, der, der, die, das, des, dem, das.’”

“Did you ever hear anything like that before?” asked Miss Allen of Betty Peters.

“Yes,” replied Betty.

“Did you?” asked Miss Allen of Laura.

[Pg 73]Laura said she thought so.

“Was that what Mary said on the memorable day when she came out of German class?”

“I think so,” replied Laura, a little ashamed.

“Was it, Mary?”

“Yes,” said Mary, loudly. She was glad to say it, too. Some of the girls giggled.

“Take out your English books for grammar, oral,” commanded Miss Allen. “Betty Peters, you may conjugate the verb ‘to love.’”

So Betty began: “Present tense, indicative mood: I love; thou lovest; he loves; we love; you love,” and then with her eyes upon Mary and Laura she ended, “they love.”

Everybody in the class laughed for there was Laura with her arm around Mary and both of them were laughing and crying, too.

“Buttinski did it,” smiled Miss Allen. “I hope nobody else in this class will have a quarrel. Now, we’re going to forget that there ever was such a thing, aren’t we, Laura and Mary?”

Together they both said, “Yes, I’m sorry!”

Angelina’s Bird-Flower

THE APRIL SURPRISE

Marjorie’s surprise for April was, first, a fluffy Easter chicken card. The Easter story pocket was another story about Angelina. The pocket said:

    “Open on the afternoon of Easter Day at four o’clock.”

The two little girls let Mother read it aloud to them. It was called “Angelina’s Bird-Flower.”

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