Holiday Luck by Sara Conant
MOTHER, mother!” with a prolonged
“Mary, where’s mother?” and the
children raced through the house, looking
into every room on the way.
“Here, Willie; what do you want?”
“O, mother, we are to have a holiday.
Miss Mortimer has gone home.”
“Isn’t it fun!” cried Ada, swinging on
her mother’s arm.
“That depends upon how you spend it,”
Mrs. Constant replied.
“Why, a holiday means to have fun,
and do just what you please,” asserted
“And not get any lessons,” said Dolly,
snipping the tape with her mother’s scissors.
Mrs. Constant took them from her, and
smiled on the excited three.
“I hope you will have a pleasant day,
and try to be good.”
“Not too good, mother,” expostulated
“No, only don’t get into mischief.”
“What shall we do first?” asked Ada.
“I don’t know,” replied Dolly. “Isn’t
it fun to have one whole day which is not
Christmas or Thanksgiving?”
For a short time the children remained
in Mrs. Constant’s room, upsetting her
baskets, tangling her silk, and plying her
with numberless questions.
“I think you had better take a run in
the garden,” she finally said. “You are
so restless and full of holiday, I think the
fresh air would relieve you.”
“What a dear mother!” they cried;
and having tumultuously kissed her, they
repaired to the garden.
They lived in a country town, and had
a large plot of ground at the back of the
house, through the farther end of which
flowed a brook. Each one had his garden
bed, and at one side was a summer-house,
where they kept their garden tools and
many of their playthings, also a pet rabbit,
named Blackhawk. It was too late in
the fall for flowers, only a few sturdy asters
and hardy verbenas being in blossom, and
they played tag, hide-and-seek, and chased
each other with handfuls of dead leaves.
While they were thus occupied, their
mother called them, and told them that
aunt Clara had sent for her to come and
spend the day; she had sprained her ankle,
and wanted some one to sit with her.
“Won’t you be home to dinner?” they
asked in despairing chorus.
“No; but Mary will take care of you,
and you can enjoy yourselves; but don’t
do foolish things, or your holiday will be
spoiled. Now, you must all be mother to
each other, that I may find you well and
happy when I come home.”
For a while after she had gone, they
amused themselves being mother to one
another; but Willie made such a failure
that they gave it up.
“Let us play with the dolls a little
while,” suggested Dolly.
The proposition met with favor, and
they went to the summer-house. Ada
had a large family of paper dolls, and
Dolly of wooden ones. They played tea
party, and dinner, and visiting; but Willie
could not forget that they had a holiday,
and he longed to do something unusual.
“You have too many girls, Ada,” he
cried. “Let us play China, and burn
A funeral pyre was soon constructed
with splinters of wood, Dolly ran to the
kitchen for matches, and Willie turned
his jacket inside out, tied Ada’s sack
about his neck by the sleeves, put the
watering-pot on his head, and was ready
to personate the priest. Ada selected
four victims, who were securely bound
with thirty cotton, and laid on the pile.
“Let us have Blackhawk for the idol,”
Blackhawk was brought forth, a string
of colored beads put about his neck, and
he was bolstered up in the arm-chair of
the Princess Widdlesbee, Dolly’s largest
doll. But when the match was struck
and applied with a great flourish, he
sprang from his throne, and fled to the
“The god is displeased; the sacrifice
must cease,” cried Ada, who began to
feel remorse as her dolls crisped and
turned to ashes.
“No,” shouted Willie, “I am the priest;
I know he means burn all;” and seizing
a brand, he applied it to Dolly’s village,
which stood near by. For a moment it
was fun to see the flames bursting from
the roofs of houses, and lapping about
the fences; but Dolly soon gave a cry of
“Susanna and Posy are in the church;
I don’t want them burned.”
“To the rescue!” shouted the heathen
priest, snatching the pot from his head,
and running to fill it with water.
But Dolly could not wait, and had already
burned a hole in her apron, and
singed her hair, trying to save her favorites.
Blackhawk cowered in the corner,
stamping his hind feet, while Ada was
pulling apart the pyre on which her dolls
“O, Willie, the floor is burned. Hurry,
hurry!” cried Dolly.
Willie ran, deluged the burning village,
and Dolly seized Susanna and Posy, free
from damage, with the exception of Posy’s
legs, which were so long, they lay outside
the church door, and were burned off.
When they cleared away the ruins, there
was a round, black spot on the floor,
where the village had stood, and the children’s
hands and clothes were wet and
“Do you think mother will care?”
asked Dolly, after they had looked solemnly
at one another.
“I don’t believe she will as long as we
did not burn any more,” replied Willie,
stepping back on the rest of the matches.
They were explosive, and lighted with
a snap that made him jump. When he
saw what he had done, he turned the watering-pot
over them, and put his foot on it.
“Now they are safe,” he cried. “Let
us bury the pieces of the village.”
“No,” said Ada. “After I get a carrot
for Blackhawk, let us make a raft of some
of them, and put the rest on, and let them
float away on the brook.”
This was speedily done, and when the
little craft had passed the boundaries of
their garden, Willie proposed they should
build a dam, and some time he would put
up a mill. They were hardly fairly at
work when Mary called them to dinner.
Willie took the head of the table, and
was rather offended that Mary did not let
him cut the meat.
“At any rate, I’ll help the pie,” he declared.
Mary prudently cut the pieces before
she put it on, and while they were eating
it, Willie very grandly said,—
“You may go now, Mary.”
His mother usually dismissed her at
dessert, and Willie wished to have all the
privileges of the place he occupied. Mary
retired with a smile, and when the first
pieces of pie were disposed of, Willie
offered the girls a second. It was mince
pie, very nice and tempting; and though
Ada knew a second piece was not generally
allowed, she thought a holiday might
make a difference. Dolly was busy feeding
Prig,—a brisk Scotch terrier, with
large, bright eyes, stiff, rough hair, and a
tail about two inches long,—and refused.
After dinner they returned to their dam,
Ada and Dolly bringing the material, and
Willie building. But Dolly became dissatisfied,
and insisted on being allowed to
work in the water, while Ada deserted
altogether, and played with Blackhawk,
whom they had let out.
“Dolly,” cried Willie, “won’t you go
to my room and get my hammer? and be
quick, for I’ve got to hold this while you
The dam was nearly finished, and both
were much excited with the success of
their work; for the water had collected
in quite a pool above, and would soon
flow over in a fine fall. Dolly ran, leaving
the doors open behind her. Back she
came, and Willie was carefully adjusting
the last beam, when Ada shouted,—
“Here’s Prig, and Blackhawk’s out.”
All three started, calling Prig, and
running after her and Blackhawk in wild
confusion. Prig misunderstood their
anxiety, and supposing they were setting
her on the rabbit, joined in the hunt.
Poor Blackhawk tried to escape, but Prig
caught him, gave one shake, and the pretty
rabbit lay dead.
“O, you wicked dog!” cried Ada, while
Willie and Dolly stood quite overcome
by the misfortune.
Prig saw in a moment she had made a
mistake, and when Willie rushed at her
with uplifted hammer, hid behind the
summer-house. With loud grief and many
tears, the children raised their dead pet,
and laid it on a bench in the out-house.
Its blue eyes were half open, its soft
black-and-white fur wet and rumpled, and
they cried and blamed Prig as they tenderly
arranged it on the bench. Ada
fairly howled, and Bridget and Mary ran
out to see what was the matter.
“Ay,” said Bridget, “and it was Dolly
herself left the door open, though I told
her to shut it.”
“I didn’t know Prig was there,” sobbed
“It’s all Prig’s fault,” said Willie, “and
I’ll kill her.”
“No, no,” pleaded Dolly, with whom
Prig was an especial favorite.
A consultation was held over the bench,
and it was finally decided that the case
should be referred to Mrs. Constant on
her return, though Willie still vowed
vengeance. Prig had crept back, and
crouched in the doorway; but when the
children saw her, they drove her away,
throwing stones and calling her the worst
names they could invent. She skulked
outside very unhappy, until Willie shut
her up in the summer-house, while the
children spent the rest of the long afternoon
over their dead rabbit. Dolly tied
the Princess Widdlesbee’s best blue sash
about his neck, Willie emptied his toolbox
to lay him in, and Ada spread her
best doll’s bed-quilt over him. Then they
sat and cried together until Dolly started
up, and said,—
The first thing Mrs. Constant heard
when she entered the house was the cry
Not with the joyous ring it had in the
morning, but with an appeal in it which
told her some trouble had come which
mother could best heal. All told the story
separately and together, laying Blackhawk
on her knees, and crying on her shoulder.
“And I’m going to hang Prig for a
wicked, bad dog,” said Willie, to conclude.
“She is a murderer!” and he
fiercely wiped his tears.
“My dear little boy, I don’t think poor
Prig was to blame at all.”
“O, mother!” cried a mournful chorus.
“No; Dolly left the door open, you all
excited her, and I begin to think you
were having too much of what Willie calls
“But it wasn’t her holiday, and she’s
killed Blackhawk. O-o-o!” and they all
Mrs. Constant soothed them, and sympathized.
“Don’t cry any more. You will be sick.
I would not kill Prig, for then she would
be gone too, and to-morrow you would be
sorry. And besides, she was only trying
to do as you wanted her to, and following
out her doggish instinct.”
But half convinced, the children went
to the summer-house and called Prig;
but she would not come. Then they
drove her out, and as she stood trembling
before them, reproached her, and raising
their arms, shouted,—
Prig hesitated a moment, looked from
one to another, then with her tail between
her legs, her hair on end, she uttered an
unearthly howl, and fled at full speed,
crowded under the gate, and disappeared.
The children went to bed early, as Mrs.
Constant thought the excitement was bad
for them, and in the night she was called
to the little girl’s room. Dolly was feverish,
and ill with a sore throat, and Ada in
great pain. They were sick all night, and
in the morning Mrs. Constant heard about
the second piece of pie and Dolly’s dam
building. Her sleeves had been wet all
the afternoon, and the grief, added to the
pie and wet, had made them both ill.
They were not able to go out that day,
and Willie buried Blackhawk alone, while
they watched him sadly from the window.
They took their last farewell of their pet
at the kitchen door, and would have given
all their yesterday’s sport to have helped
Willie with the funeral. He had meant
that Prig should have attended as chief
mourner, but she was nowhere to be found.
No one had seen her since her flight, and
for days they could find no trace of her.
This added to their discomfort; for they
all loved her, and Ada and Dolly were
confined to the house for some time, and
wanted her to play with them.
About a week after, on a rainy night,
Bridget found her at the kitchen door,
and with great difficulty persuaded her to
come in. She was very thin and unhappy,
and hid from the children, when they, already
sorry for their harshness, were kind
to her, and tried to play with her. It was
a long time before she was the lively Prig
she used to be, and was always a little
lame in her left fore foot. Something had
hurt her in those days of absence; and
though after a while the children forgot
their holiday and the consequences, I am
afraid poor Prig never did.