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VII Marjorie’s Mystery
Upon Marjorie’s list of good resolutions, not-to-be-too-curious was a failing hard to remember and conquer. In the first place, Marjorie was very wide awake. She always saw everything that was happening. In the second place and in the third place as well as the tenth and thirteenth place, Marjorie couldn’t bear not to know everything that she wanted to know. Sometimes, she went quite too far in her attempts to find out. At any rate, Daddy and Mother and Mark and Dotty made fun of the failing and Marjorie, when she stopped to think twice—which wasn’t so very often—tried hard to overcome unnecessary curiosity. Sometimes it is a fine thing to be curious and again, it’s bad. But upon a very memorable day in May, once upon a time, something mysterious came to pass at Marjorie’s home and this is[Pg 92] to be the story of The Great Mystery of Curiosity, Unanswered.

It happened this way: Daddy was away; Mark had gone off since Friday to make a visit at a boy friend’s just out of town a little way; Dotty had also gone away. She spent the night with the little girl next door and had not yet come home. It was a Monday morning and May Day.

Marjorie had prepared a May Day basket for her special friend, Mabel. She had been out in the woods on Sunday afternoon and as soon as she was through breakfast, the bowl of May Day flowers came out—and in arranging them they scattered all over the floor as Marjorie selected the unwilted ones to put into Mabel’s basket.

“Look out,” warned Mother. “Somebody came last night when you were abed. Somebody may be down to breakfast by and by—better pick up, Marjorie! We don’t want a disorderly floor.”

“Oh, did Daddy come home?” questioned Marjorie.

“No, not Daddy.”

“Who?”

[Pg 93]“Oh, just somebody who wants to keep quiet this morning and rest.”

Wasn’t that enough to make a person curious! Of course it was! Who? Who could it be? “Is it uncle or aunt?” she insisted. “Who’s ‘company’?”

But Mother only smiled. “You’ll find out sometime,” she said. “Not now. If I told you, you’d run right up to Mark’s room and the person who came last night felt sick and mustn’t be disturbed.”

Hump! The flowers were pushed into the paper May basket and she began to pick up the leaves and buds that had fallen on the floor. “I think you might tell me,” she begged. “I want to know who came.”

But Marjorie got no answer. She knew it wasn’t much use to continue to tease, but she resolved to find out who it was.

At school the question still pursued Marjorie. Would Mark come home and want his room and, if he did, would he know who was there? After school she dashed home and burst through the back door and up the back stairs. Mark’s door was closed. There was a paper pinned upon it. It was[Pg 94] Mother’s writing and it said, “Please don’t disturb.”

So Marjorie passed by the door. She went into Mother’s room and found Mother sewing. “Isn’t company ever going to wake up?” she asked. “Am I never to know who is there?”

But she received no answer only a smile.

Dotty was home now. Dotty didn’t know who was in Mark’s room, but she wasn’t curious about things. She was occupied in cutting out paper dolls, sitting on the floor in the sun beside the window.

“What happened at luncheon?” asked Marjorie of Dotty who went to kindergarten and came home at noon. “Did anybody talk in Mark’s room when Mother took up the tray? Did you hear anything?”

Dotty shook her head.

Deary me! Oh, dear! And the door was closed! Marjorie decided to walk by it again. She waited and she listened. She heard nothing at all—no, not a sound, not a sound! Then the telephone bell rang and she ran down to answer it. The telephone call was from Mabel. Mabel had been at school and[Pg 95] she wanted to know if Marjorie had solved the mystery.

“Who came? Who is it?” she asked.

But Marjorie did not know. Mabel suggested that it must be Marjorie’s aunt who came from the West. “Probably that’s it,” she said. “Why don’t you make a May basket and go tie it on the door and—and say something. You could tell from the voice, if it answered you, whether it was your aunt or not.” That was a good thought. Marjorie set about making a paper May basket. She heard Mother go up the front stairs and cross to the back where Mark’s door was. Then, having made the basket, she decided to try Mabel’s suggestion. Mother went into Mark’s room, came out and went downstairs again. Marjorie waited.

Then she went upstairs softly. Mother was in the living-room with Dotty now, playing and helping her cut the dolls out of a big magazine sheet. They seemed occupied.

May basket in hand, Marjorie tiptoed toward Mark’s door and saw that the paper had been taken off it. She hung the May[Pg 96] basket on the knob and knocked. There was no answer. “May I come and bring you a May Day gift?” she softly suggested to the closed door.

But right here, who should appear but Mother! “I’ll take the basket in for you, dear,” she smiled. Marjorie was quite aware of the wicked twinkle in her eye. “Dotty wants you to help her downstairs,” she said.

So downstairs went Marjorie. She stopped half way as Mother opened the mysterious door and passed in with the May basket. She saw nothing. She heard nothing. Now, wasn’t that just dreadful! Marjorie’s curiosity was much bigger than ever but she went down to help darling little sister, Dotty, cut paper dolls out of the fashion sheet.

But while she cut for Dotty, she kept wondering and wondering and wondering. She decided that she’d write a note upon some paper and slip it under the door and say on the paper:

    Who are you, mysterious stranger? Please answer? Are you Auntie? If you are Auntie, let me know, please. I want to see you. If you are Mother’s friend, Miss Phelps, please[Pg 97] tell me? Mother says you want to be quiet, so I can’t come in, but I want to know who you are—please, please put an answer under your door for me.

    Marjorie.

That was what she did do as soon as the last doll had been cut out. At the time, Mother was busy in the kitchen, getting tea. Dotty was still playing with the dolls. Marjorie slipped upstairs and tucked the paper beneath the crack. As she came to the end of the paper, she gave it a wiggle to attract attention. She hadn’t dared to speak again as Mother said the mysterious person must not be troubled.

As the paper disappeared under the door Mother appeared! She came bringing a napkin and tray with something hot upon it. She was going to take this into Mark’s room.

“Marjorie,” she reproved. “Are you still so curious? Well, run away now.”

Marjorie waited in the hall and heard Mother speaking—but nothing else! She was almost ashamed to pursue the mystery so openly but when Mother at last came out bringing the tray and the empty dishes, she laughingly handed Marjorie an answer to the[Pg 98] letter. It said in strange scrawls that betrayed nothing of who had written them:

    Please, I feel sick. You’ll see me sometime when I am better. I just want to sleep now.

    The Mysterious Mystery.

Marjorie laughed and then she frowned. Now, why couldn’t that person-whoever-it-was have signed a name! Why not!

“How long before the person in Mark’s room will be well?” she asked.

“Oh, soon,” replied Mother. “I hope very soon.”

“What time? Will I know who it is by tea-time?”

“Maybe.”

“Oh, deary me!” Marjorie sighed. “Well, I’ve tried every way I can to find out,” she said. “Perhaps I’d better forget about it. I’m going to do my home-work for school so I can forget about it.” And she sat down at the library table with pencil, paper and books. But still, nothing happened!

Then it grew twilight and the light was lit in the dining-room. Marjorie rose and set the supper-table as usual. “How many places shall I set, Mother?” she inquired. “I don’t[Pg 99] really mean to be curious any more—but you see, I must know. Mark will be home tonight and there will be Daddy—he’ll be here—and there’s you and there’s me and, I suppose The Mystery will be down, will it?”

“The Mystery will be down,” answered Mother, “but we’ll only need four places.”

But right here into the room came Mark. “Hello,” he greeted Marjorie. “Say, that’s one on you for curiosity, Marj! But the May basket was a peach! I’d have called to you only Mother said I mustn’t else you’d be in and talk to me and I felt pretty sick, I tell you! I got sick at Jimmie’s house and they telephoned home here the night I went away after you were asleep. Mother thought I’d better come right home, if I was going to be sick, so they sent me home late at night in their car—it’s a joke on you, Marjorie. How about a Mysterious Stranger?”

Mother laughed. And so, too, did Marjorie.

The Two Little Bates Girls

THE JUNE SURPRISE

The four-leaf clover that came in June’s first pocket was a pressed four-leaf clover marked, “To help in examination time.” The story that came in the other June pocket was “The Two Little Bates Girls” and it was labelled:

    “Read and open after your arithmetic examination is over.”
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