Rainbow Valley HTML version

XVIII. Mary Brings Evil Tidings
Mary Vance, whom Mrs. Elliott had sent up to the manse on an errand, came
tripping down Rainbow Valley on her way to Ingleside where she was to spend
the afternoon with Nan and Di as a Saturday treat. Nan and Di had been picking
spruce gum with Faith and Una in the manse woods and the four of them were
now sitting on a fallen pine by the brook, all, it must be admitted, chewing rather
vigorously. The Ingleside twins were not allowed to chew spruce gum anywhere
but in the seclusion of Rainbow Valley, but Faith and Una were unrestricted by
such rules of etiquette and cheerfully chewed it everywhere, at home and
abroad, to the very proper horror of the Glen. Faith had been chewing it in church
one day; but Jerry had realized the enormity of THAT, and had given her such an
older-brotherly scolding that she never did it again.
"I was so hungry I just felt as if I had to chew something," she protested. "You
know well enough what breakfast was like, Jerry Meredith. I COULDN'T eat
scorched porridge and my stomach just felt so queer and empty. The gum helped
a lot--and I didn't chew VERY hard. I didn't make any noise and I never cracked
the gum once."
"You mustn't chew gum in church, anyhow," insisted Jerry. "Don't let me catch
you at it again."
"You chewed yourself in prayer-meeting last week," cried Faith.
"THAT'S different," said Jerry loftily. "Prayer-meeting isn't on Sunday. Besides, I
sat away at the back in a dark seat and nobody saw me. You were sitting right up
front where every one saw you. And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last
hymn and stuck it on the back of the pew right up in front where every one saw
you. And I took the gum out of my mouth for the last hymn and stuck it on the
back of the pew in front of me. Then I came away and forgot it. I went back to get
it next morning, but it was gone. I suppose Rod Warren swiped it. And it was a
dandy chew."
Mary Vance walked down the Valley with her head held high. She had on a new
blue velvet cap with a scarlet rosette in it, a coat of navy blue cloth and a little
squirrel-fur muff. She was very conscious of her new clothes and very well
pleased with herself. Her hair was elaborately crimped, her face was quite plump,
her cheeks rosy, her white eyes shining. She did not look much like the forlorn
and ragged waif the Merediths had found in the old Taylor barn. Una tried not to
feel envious. Here was Mary with a new velvet cap, but she and Faith had to
wear their shabby old gray tams again this winter. Nobody ever thought of getting
them new ones and they were afraid to ask their father for them for fear that he
might be short of money and then he would feel badly. Mary had told them once
that ministers were always short of money, and found it "awful hard" to make
ends meet. Since then Faith and Una would have gone in rags rather than ask
their father for anything if they could help it. They did not worry a great deal over
their shabbiness; but it was rather trying to see Mary Vance coming out in such
style and putting on such airs about it, too. The new squirrel muff was really the
last straw. Neither Faith nor Una had ever had a muff, counting themselves lucky