BETTY GORDON AT BRAMBLE FARM
by Alice B. Emerson
[pseud. of Stratemeyer Syndicate;
plot outline by Edward Stratemeyer;
ghostwritten by Josephine Lawrence]
New York: Cupples & Leon, 1920
Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her
Josephine Lawrence website;
please do not use on other sites without permission
WAITING FOR WORD
"I do wish you'd wear a sunbonnet, Betty," said
Mrs. Arnold, glancing up from her ironing board
as Betty Gordon came into the kitchen. "You're
getting old enough now to think a little about
Betty's brown eyes laughed over the rim of the
glass of water she had drawn at the sink.
"I can't stand a sunbonnet," she declared vehemently, returning the glass to the nickel holder
under the shelf. "I know just how a horse feels
with blinders on. You know you wouldn't like it,
Mrs. Arnold, if I pulled up half your onion sets
in mistake for weeds because I couldn't see what
I was doing."
Mrs. Arnold shook her head over the white
ruffle she was fluting with nervous, skillful fingers.
"There's no call for you to go grubbing in that
onion bed," she said. "I'd like you to have nice
hands and not be burnt black as an Indian when
your uncle comes. But then, nobody pays any attention to what I say."
There was more truth in this statement than
Mrs. Arnold herself suspected. She was one of
these patient, anxious women who unconsciously
nag every one about them and whose stream of
complaint never rises above a constant murmur.
Her family were so used to Mrs. Arnold's monotonous fault-finding that they rarely if ever
knew what she was complaining about. They did
not mean to be disrespectful, but they had fallen
into the habit of not listening.
"Uncle' Dick won't mind if I'm as black as an
Indian," said Betty confidently, spreading out her
strong, little brown right hand and eyeing it
critically. "With all the traveling he's done, I
guess he's seen people more tanned than I am,
You're sure there wasn't a letter this morning?"
"The young ones said there wasn't," returned
Mrs. Arnold, changing her cool iron for a hot
one, and testing it by holding it close to her flushed
face. "But I don't know that Ted and George
would know a letter if they saw it, their heads are
so full of fishing."
"I thought' Uncle Dick would write again," observed Betty wistfully. "But perhaps there wasn't
time. He said he might come any day."
"I don't know what he'll say," worried Mrs.
Arnold, her eyes surveying the slender figure
leaning against the sink. "Your not being in
mourning will certainly seem queer to him. I
hope you'll tell him Sally Pettit and I offered to
make you black frocks."
Betty smiled, her peculiarly vivid, rich smile.
"Dear Mrs. Arnold!" she said, affection warm
in her voice. "Of course I'll tell him. He will
understand, and not blame you. And now I'm
going to tackle those weeds."
The screen door banged behind her.
Betty Gordon was an orphan, her mother having died in March (it was now June) and her
father two years before. The twelve-year-old
girl had to her knowledge but one single living
relative in the world, her father's brother, Richard Gordon. Betty had never seen this uncle.
For years he had traveled about the country,
wherever his work called him, sometimes spending months in large cities, sometimes living for
weeks in the desert. Mr. Gordon was a promoter of various industrial enterprises and was
frequently sent for to investigate new mines, oil
wells and other large developments.
"I'd love to travel," thought Betty, pulling at
an especially stubborn weed. "I hope Uncle Dick
will like me and take me with him wherever he
goes. Wouldn't it be just like a fairy story if he
should come here and scoop me out of Pineville
and take me hundreds of miles away to beautiful
and exciting adventures!"
This enchanting prospect so thrilled the
energetic young gardener that she sat down comfortably in the middle of the row to dream a little
more. While her father lived, Betty's home had
been in a small, bustling city where she had gone
to school in the winter. The family had always
gone to the seashore in the summer; but the only
exciting adventure she could recall had been a
tedious attack of the measles when she was six
years old. Mrs. Gordon, upon her husband's
sudden death, had taken her little daughter and
come back to Pineville, the only home she had
known as a lonely young orphan girl. She had
many kind friends in the sleepy country town, and
when she died these same friends had taken loving
charge of Betty.
The girl's grief for the loss of her mother baffled the villagers who would have known how to
deal with sorrow that expressed itself in words or
flowed out in tears. Betty's long silences, her
desire to be left quite alone in her mother's room,
above all her determination not to wear mourn-
ing, puzzled them. That she had sustained a
great shock no one could doubt. White and mis-
erable, she went about, the shadow of her former
gay-hearted self. For the first time in her life
she was experiencing a real bereavement.
When Betty's father had died, the girl's grieving was principally for her mother's evident pain.
She had always been her mother's confidante and
chum, and the bond between them, naturally close,
had been strengthened by Mr. Gordon's frequent
absences on the road as a salesman. It was Betty
and her mother who locked up the house at night,
Betty and her mother who discussed household
finances and planned to surprise the husband and
father. The daughter felt his death keenly, but
she could never miss his actual presence as she did
that of the mother from whom she had never been
separated for one night from the time she was
The neighbors took turns staying with the
stricken girl in the little brown house that had
been home for the two weeks following Mrs. Gordon's death. Then, as Betty seemed to be re-
covering her natural poise, a discussion of her
affairs was instigated. The house had been a
rented one and Betty owned practically nothing in
the world except the simple articles of furniture
that had been her mother's household effects.
These Mrs. Arnold stored for her in a vacant loft
over a store, and Mrs. Arnold, her mother's
closest friend, bore the lonely child off to stay
with them till Richard Gordon could be heard
from and some arrangement made for the future.
Communication with Mr. Gordon was necessarily slow, since he moved about so frequently,
but when the news of his sister-in-law's death
reached him, he wrote immediately to Betty,
promising to come to Pineville as soon as he could
plan his business affairs to release him.
"Betty!" a shrill whisper, apparently in the
lilac bushes down by the fence, startled Betty
from her day dreams.
"Betty!" came the whisper again.
"Is that you, Ted?" called Betty, standing up
and looking expectantly toward the bushes.
"Sh! don't let ma hear you." Ted Arnold
parted the lilac bushes sufficiently to show his
round, perspiring face. "George and me's going
fishing, and we hid the can of worms under the
wheelbarrow. Hand 'em to us, will you, Betty?
If ma sees us, she'll want something done."
"Did you go to the post-office this morning?"
demanded Betty severely.
"Sure I did. There wasn't anything but a
postal from pa," came the answer from the
bushes. "He's coming home next week, and then
it'll be nothing but work in the garden all day
long. Hand us the can of worms, like a good
sport, won't you?"
"Where did you hide them?" asked Betty absently.
"Under the wheelbarrow, there at the end of
the arbor," directed Ted. "Thanks awfully,
"Where's George?" she asked. "Isn't there
another mail at eleven, Ted?"
"Oh, Betty, how you do harp on one subject,"
complained Ted, poking about in his can of worms
with a stick, but keeping carefully out of sight of
the kitchen window and the maternal eye. "Hardly anything ever comes in that eleven o'clock mail.
Anyway, didn't mother say your uncle would probably come without bothering to write again?"
"I suppose he will," sighed Betty. "Only it
seems so long to wait. Where did you say George
Ted answered reluctantly.
"He's in swimming."
"Well I must say! You wait till your father
comes home," said Betty ominously.
The boys had been forbidden to go swimming
in the treacherous creek hole, and George was
where he had no business to be.
"You needn't tell everything you know," mut-
tered Ted uncomfortably, picking up his treasured
can and preparing to depart.
"Oh, I won't tell," promised Betty quickly.
She went back to her weeding, and Ted scuf-
fled off to fish.
"Goodness!" Betty pushed the hair from her
forehead with a grimy hand. "I do believe this
is the warmest day we've had! I'll be glad when
I get down to the other end where the arbor
makes a little shade."
She had reached the end of the long row and
had stood up to rest her back when she saw some
one leaning over the white picket fence.
"Probably wants a drink of water," thought
Betty, crossing the strip of garden and grass to
ask him, after the friendly fashion of Pineville
folk. "I've never seen him before."
The stranger was leaning over the fence, staring abstractedly at a border of sweet alyssum
which straggled down one side of the sunken
brick walk. He was tall and broad-shouldered,
and his straw hat pushed slightly back on his head
revealed a keen, tanned face and close-cropped
iron gray hair. He did not look up as Betty drew
near and suddenly she felt shy.
"I—I beg your pardon," she faltered, "were
you looking for any particular house?"
The stranger lifted his hat, and a pair of sharp
blue eyes smiled pleasantly into Betty's brown
"I was looking, not for a particular house, but
for a particular person," admitted the man, gazing at her intently. "I shouldn't wonder if I had
found her, too. Can you guess who I am?"
Betty's mind was so full of one subject that
it would have been strange indeed if she had failed
to guess correctly.
"You're Uncle Dick!" she cried, throwing her
arms around his neck and running the risk of
spiking herself on the sharp pickets. "Oh, I
thought you'd never come!"
Uncle Dick, for it really was Mr. Gordon,
hurdled the low fence lightly and stood smiling
down on his niece.
"I don't believe in wasting time writing
letters," he declared cheerfully, "especially as I seldom know my plans three days ahead. You're
the image of your father, child. I should have
known you anywhere."
Betty put her hands behind her, suddenly conscious that they could not be very clean.
"I'm afraid I mussed your collar," she apologized contritely. "Mrs. Arnold was hoping you'd
write so she could have me all scrubbed up for
you;" and here Betty's dimple would flicker out.
Mr. Gordon put an arm about the little figure
in the grass-stained rose-colored smock.
"I'd rather find you a garden girl," he announced contentedly. "Isn't there a place where
you and I can have a little talk before we go in
to see Mrs. Arnold and make our explanations?"
Betty drew him toward the arbor. She knew
they would be undisturbed there.
On to chapter two
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