Careless Gracie's Lesson by
Gracie and Norma Wilson were sisters, aged respectively, fourteen and
twelve. But I think that two sisters were never more unlike than were
Gracie and Norma. Norma, who was the younger, was as orderly a little
lady as one could wish to see, while Gracie was just the reverse.
Often their mother would say, in a despairing tone, "Gracie, I do wish
you would care for your room and frocks as Norma cares for hers. Why,
you go out with buttons loose, or entirely off your dress, or your
frocks unmended, not to speak of the untidiness of your room. If only
you would take an interest in such things it would gratify me so much.
Without an orderly mind no girl can aspire to become a useful member of
Then Gracie would try to make excuses for her shortcomings, pleading
this thing or that as the real cause of her negligence. But her poor
mother, at her wits' end to devise some way by which Gracie might be
aroused to a sense of her duty, would shake her head and say: "Dearest
child, there is no excuse for your slighting your work, either on your
clothes or in your room. You have plenty of time for both and should
force yourself to perform your share of the labor that falls to you to
And while Mrs. Wilson was thus advising and entreating her eldest
daughter to do her duty in such small household matters, Norma was busy
tidying up her dainty room or sewing on her summer frocks, mending lace,
ribbons, or putting on buttons and hooks and eyes. She was such a
cheerfully busy little miss that Gracie's laziness was the more
pronounced by contrast with her industry.
One afternoon, while Gracie was sitting idly in the hammock which swung
in the broad, awning-covered porch, the phone bell rang and Norma
answered it. The message which reached her ear made her smile very
happily, and she answered, "Oh, yes, indeed, we shall be delighted to
go, and thank you for both of us ever and ever so much. What time shall
we be ready—at four o'clock this afternoon? All right. And we shall
prepare some luncheon? Yes, all right, we'll be most happy to do so.
Then to the porch ran Norma, crying to Gracie, excitedly: "Oh, sister,
Mrs. Jackson has invited us—you and me—to go with her and Flora and
Tommy for a long automobile ride. We are to stop on the beach—down at
Blake Island—and have a picnic supper by moonlight. We'll return home
about nine o'clock. Won't that be splendid? I know mamma will be so
happy to have us go, so I accepted for both of us. Mamma won't be home
for over an hour. And we are to start at four. It is now two o'clock.
We'll have to be stirring if we are ready when Mrs. Jackson calls. And
she must not be kept waiting."
"Are we to carry luncheon?" asked Gracie, lazily, not making any sign of
getting out of the hammock.
"Yes. Mrs. Jackson said we'd carry luncheon. She said she would take
sandwiches, cookies, and jelly. We can supply something else. Suppose we
have some boiled eggs. And I'll run to our favorite baker's and get a
nice cake—one of those delicious white ones, you know. Won't it be
"What shall you wear?" asked Gracie, now bestirring herself a bit.
"My pink lawn, I guess," replied Norma. "But I shall have to hurry, for
the eggs must be boiled at once, so as to give them time to get cold and
solid in the ice box. Otherwise, they wouldn't be fit for the lunch
And away ran busy Norma to the kitchen to put the eggs to boil.
Within a short time Norma had the eggs nicely boiled and cooling in the
ice box while she was getting her frock, shoes, hat, and other
accessories to her afternoon attire, laid out all ready to wear.
But Gracie was not quite so energetic. She had left the hammock and gone
to her own room to look over her frocks to see which one might be fit to
wear. A blue dimity was selected as being in the best wearing condition,
but in looking it over she found a rent in the skirt and two buttons
gone. "Oh, just my luck," she declared petulantly. "I never have a frock
in shape to put right on. I do believe I'll ask mamma—if she has
returned—to sew on the buttons and mend the rent. Let me see—the lace
is all torn in places on my white lawn. The buttons are off my checked
batiste. Yes, this blue dimity will be the best." So taking it in her
arms, she went down stairs to the sitting room.
Mrs. Wilson had just returned from making some calls and was listening
to Norma's explanation of the good time in store for Gracie and herself
that afternoon and evening. "I knew you would not mind our going mamma,"
Norma was saying, "so I just accepted at the moment."
"No, indeed, I shall not object," said Mrs. Wilson. "On the other hand,
I am delighted that Mrs. Jackson has invited you to go with her and her
lovely children. You will have a splendid time, I know. And how about
your luncheon? Have you everything ready?"
"I am just going to prepare some eggs this very minute," explained
Norma. "And," turning to Gracie, "won't you go after some cake and some
Gracie frowned. "I'll not have the time." she complained. "And,"
appealing to her mother, "mamma, will you be good enough to fix this
frock for me to wear? I've got to wash and comb and do ever so many
Mrs. Wilson shook her head. "Gracie, you must have your lesson first or
last. Now is a very good time for it. You must fix your own frock, my
child. I have urged you, time and again, to keep your clothes neatly
mended. If you let your things go—well, you must suffer the
consequences. And, you must assist Norma in preparing the luncheon. It
is not fair that she should have the bulk of the work of preparation to
do. You must shoulder your share of it."
Gracie, her face aflame with shame, went upstairs and began to fix her
frock. But hardly had she begun when her mother's voice called to her:
"You would better go for the cake, daughter, before sitting down to
mend. If by any chance you should not be ready to go when Mrs. Jackson
calls for you, Norma must not be disappointed and shall have her basket
of luncheon ready."
Gracie began to beg off, but her mother was firm. "Do as I say,
daughter, and start at once to the baker's for the cake. Stop on the way
back and buy a bag of nice fruit."
Gracie had to obey, but did it reluctantly. She feared she would not be
ready to go when four o'clock arrived, for there was so much to be done
in preparation. She hurried to the baker's and got the cake; stopped on
the way back home and bought a bag of fruit. But she saw by the town
clock that it wanted only forty-five minutes till time to start on their
For a moment she felt very much out of sorts over the fact that she had
been obliged to go after the cake and fruit, but the longer she thought
of it the clearer became her own fault. Yes, she had been very
indifferent about her work. And if she missed getting the trip—well, it
would be her lesson.
As soon as Gracie gave the cake and fruit into Norma's hands she ran up
stairs to fix her frock. Norma was all ready, looking as sweet in her
fresh lawn frock as could be. The basket was prepared for the luncheon,
lined with a soft white napkin.
Into the basket Norma put a dozen nicely prepared eggs, wrapped about
with white paper. Then came the cake, also appetizingly fixed in dainty
fashion; then the yellow oranges, luscious, pink peaches and golden
At precisely ten minutes before four Norma was waiting on the porch. At
exactly four Mrs. Jackson's automobile came dashing round the corner,
Flora and Tommy in the rear seat and their mother in front beside the
chauffeur. Room for Norma and Gracie was in the big back seat beside
Flora and Tommy.
"All ready?" called out Mrs. Jackson.
Just as Norma was about to offer some excuse for her tardy sister, her
mother came upon the porch, and, after chatting in a cordial manner for
a few moments with Mrs. Jackson, she told Norma to take her basket and
go to the automobile. "It is Gracie's own fault that she is delayed this
way, and she'll have a lesson to-day that she will profit by. I am
quite sure she'll never miss another picnic through her own idleness."
Then, while Norma was getting into the automobile, Mrs. Wilson spoke in
low tones to Mrs. Jackson, explaining why Gracie would not be able to go
on the outing that day. Although all expressed regrets that Gracie was
to be left behind, they knew it was for the best that she be taught a
lesson through disappointment.
As the big auto rolled off down the road toward Blake Island, carrying
the happy picnic party, Gracie, with tears in her eyes, stood looking
from the window after them. And in her heart she knew that her
disappointment was due to her own shortcomings. And she vowed to turn
over a new leaf from that day.