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Chapter 2 Paradise

  • The place to which the children were going was a sort of marshy thicket at th_ottom of a field near the house. It wasn't a big thicket, but it looked big, because the trees and bushes grew so closely that you could not see just wher_t ended. In winter the ground was damp and boggy, so that nobody went there, excepting cows, who don't mind getting their feet wet; but in summer the wate_ried away, and then it was all fresh and green, and full of delightfu_hings—wild roses, and sassafras, and birds' nests. Narrow, winding paths ra_ere and there, made by the cattle as they wandered to and fro. This place th_hildren called "Paradise," and to them it seemed as wide and endless and ful_f adventure as any forest of fairy land.
  • The way to Paradise was through some wooden bars. Katy and Cecy climbed thes_ith a hop, skip and jump, while the smaller ones scrambled underneath. Onc_ast the bars they were fairly in the field, and, with one consent, they al_egan to run till they reached the entrance of the wood. Then they halted, with a queer look of hesitation on their faces. It was always an excitin_ccasion to go to Paradise for the first time after the long winter. Who kne_hat the fairies might not have done since any of them had been there to see?
  • "Which path shall we go in by?" asked Clover, at last.
  • "Suppose we vote," said Katy. "I say by the Pilgrim's Path and the Hill o_ifficulty."
  • "So do I!" chimed in Clover, who always agreed with Katy.
  • "The Path of Peace is nice," suggested Cecy.
  • "No, no! We want to go by Sassafras Path!" cried John and Dorry.
  • However, Katy, as usual, had her way. It was agreed that they should first tr_ilgrim's Path, and afterward make a thorough exploration of the whole o_heir little kingdom, and see all that had happened since last they wer_here. So in they marched, Katy and Cecy heading the procession, and Dorry, with his great trailing bunch of boughs, bringing up the rear.
  • "Oh, there is the dear Rosary, all safe!" cried the children, as they reache_he top of the Hill of Difficulty, and came upon a tall stump, out of th_iddle of which waved a wild rose-bush, budded over with fresh green eaves.
  • This "Rosary" was a fascinating thing to their minds. They were alway_nventing stories about it, and were in constant terror lest some hungry co_hould take a fancy to the rose-bush and eat it up.
  • "Yes," said Katy, stroking a leaf with her finger, "it was in great danger on_ight last winter, but it escaped."
  • "Oh, how? Tell us about it!" cried the others, for Katy's stories were famou_n the family.
  • "It was Christmas Eve," continued Katy, in a mysterious tone. "The fairy o_he Rosary was quite sick. She had taken a dreadful cold in her head, and th_oplar-tree fairy, just over there, told her that sassafras tea is good fo_olds. So she made a large acorn-cup full, and then cuddled herself in wher_he wood looks so black and soft, and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, when she was snoring soundly, there was a noise in the forest, and a dreadfu_lack bull with fiery eyes galloped up. He saw our poor Rosy Posy, and, opening his big mouth, he was just going to bite her in two; but at tha_inute a little fat man, with a wand in his hand, popped out from behind th_tump. It was Santa Claus, of course. He gave the bull such a rap with hi_and that he moo-ed dreadfully, and then put up his fore-paw, to see if hi_ose was on or not. He found it was, but it hurt him so that he 'moo-ed'
  • again, and galloped off as fast as he could into the woods. Then Santa Clau_aked up the fairy, and told her that if she didn't take better care of Ros_osy he should put some other fairy into her place, and set her to keep guar_ver a prickly, scratchy, blackberry-bush."
  • "Is there really any fairy?" asked Dorry, who had listened to this narrativ_ith open mouth.
  • "Of course," answered Katy. Then bending down toward Dorry, she added in _oice intended to be of wonderful sweetness: "I am a fairy, Dorry!"
  • "Pshaw!" was Dorry's reply; "you're a giraffe—Pa said so!"
  • The Path of Peace got its name because of its darkness and coolness. Hig_ushes almost met over it, and trees kept it shady, even in the middle of th_ay. A sort of white flower grew there, which the children called Pollypods, because they didn't know the real name. They staid a long while pickin_unches of these flowers, and then John and Dorry had to grub up an armful o_assafras roots; so that before they had fairly gone through Toadstool Avenue, Rabbit Hollow, and the rest, the sun was just over their heads, and it wa_oon.
  • "I'm getting hungry," said Dorry.
  • "Oh, no, Dorry, you mustn't be hungry till the bower is ready!" cried th_ittle girls, alarmed, for Dorry was apt to be disconsolate if he was kep_aiting for his meals. So they made haste to build the bower. It did not tak_ong, being composed of boughs hung over skipping-ropes, which were tied t_he very poplar-tree where the fairy lived who had recommended sassafras te_o the Fairy of the Rose.
  • When it was done they all cuddled in underneath. It was a very smal_ower—just big enough to hold them, and the baskets, and the kitten. I don'_hink there would have been room for anybody else, not even another kitten.
  • Katy, who sat in the middle, untied and lifted the lid of the largest basket, while all the rest peeped eagerly to see what was inside.
  • First came a great many ginger cakes. These were carefully laid on the gras_o keep till wanted: buttered biscuit came next—three apiece, with slices o_old lamb laid in between; and last of all were a dozen hard-boiled eggs, an_ layer of thick bread and butter sandwiched with corn-beef. Aunt Izzie ha_ut up lunches for Paradise before, you see, and knew pretty well what t_xpect in the way of appetite.
  • Oh, how good everything tasted in that bower, with the fresh wind rustling th_oplar leaves, sunshine and sweet wood-smells about them, and birds singin_verhead! No grown-up dinner party ever had half so much fun. Each mouthfu_as a pleasure; and when the last crumb had vanished, Katy produced the secon_asket, and there, oh, delightful surprise! were seven little pies—molasse_ies, baked in saucers—each with a brown top and crisp candified edge, whic_asted like toffy and lemon-peel, and all sorts of good things mixed u_ogether.
  • There was a general shout. Even demure Cecy was pleased, and Dorry and Joh_icked their heels on the ground in a tumult of joy. Seven pairs of hands wer_eld out at once toward the basket; seven sets of teeth went to work without _oment's delay. In an incredibly short time every vestige of the pie ha_isappeared, and a blissful stickiness pervaded the party.
  • "What shall we do now?" asked Clover, while little Phil tipped the basket_pside down, as if to make sure there was nothing left that could possibly b_aten.
  • "I don't know," replied Katy, dreamily. She had left her seat, and was half- sitting, half-lying on the low, crooked bough of a butternut tree, which hun_lmost over the children's heads.
  • "Let's play we're grown up," said Cecy, "and tell what we mean to do."
  • "Well," said Clover, "you begin. What do you mean to do?"
  • "I mean to have a black silk dress, and pink roses in my bonnet, and a whit_uslin long-shawl," said Cecy; "and I mean to look  _exactly_  like Minerv_lark! I shall be very good, too; as good as Mrs. Bedell, only a great dea_rettier. All the young gentlemen will want me to go and ride, but I shan'_otice them at all, because you know I shall always be teaching in Sunday- school, and visiting the poor. And some day, when I am bending over an ol_oman and feeding her with currant jelly, a poet will come along and see me, and he'll go home and write a poem about me," concluded Cecy, triumphantly.
  • "Pooh!" said Clover. "I don't think that would be nice at all.  _I'm_  goin_o be a beautiful lady—the most beautiful lady in the world! And I'm going t_ive in a yellow castle, with yellow pillars to the portico, and a squar_hing on top, like Mr. Sawyer's. My children are going to have a play-house u_here. There's going to be a spy-glass in the window, to look out of. I shal_ear gold dresses and silver dresses every day, and diamond rings, and hav_hite satin aprons to tie on when I'm dusting, or doing anything dirty. In th_iddle of my back-yard there will be a pond-full of Lubin's Extracts, an_henever I want any I shall go just out and dip a bottle in. And I shan'_each in Sunday schools, like Cecy, because I don't want to; but every Sunda_'ll go and stand by the gate, and when her scholars go by on their way home, I'll put Lubin's Extracts on their handkerchiefs."
  • "I mean to have just the same," cried Elsie, whose imagination was fired b_his gorgeous vision, "only my pond will be the biggest. I shall be a grea_eal beautifuller, too," she added.
  • "You can't," said Katy from overhead. "Clover is going to be the mos_eautiful lady in the world."
  • "But I'll be more beautiful than the most beautiful," persisted poor littl_lsie; "and I'll be big, too, and know everybody's secrets. And everybody'l_e kind, then, and never run away and hide; and there won't be any pos_ffices, or anything disagreeable."
  • "What'll you be, Johnnie?" asked Clover, anxious to change the subject, fo_lsie's voice was growing plaintive.
  • But Johnnie had no clear ideas as to her future. She laughed a great deal, an_queezed Dorry's arm very tight, but that was all. Dorry was more explicit.
  • "I mean to have turkey every day," he declared, "and batter-puddings; no_oiled ones, you know, but little baked ones, with brown shiny tops, and _reat deal of pudding sauce to eat on them. And I shall be so big then tha_obody will say, 'Three helps is quite enough for a little boy.'"
  • "Oh, Dorry, you pig!" cried Katy, while the others screamed with laughter.
  • Dorry was much affronted.
  • "I shall just go and tell Aunt Izzie what you called me," he said, getting u_n a great pet.
  • But Clover, who was a born peacemaker, caught hold of his arm, and he_oaxings and entreaties consoled him so much that he finally said he woul_tay; especially as the others were quite grave now, and promised that the_ouldn't laugh any more.
  • "And now, Katy, it's your turn," said Cecy; "tell us what you're going to b_hen you grow up."
  • "I'm not sure about what I'll be," replied Katy, from overhead; "beautiful, o_ourse, and good if I can, only not so good as you, Cecy, because it would b_ice to go and ride with the young gentlemen  _sometimes_. And I'd like t_ave a large house and a splendiferous garden, and then you could all come an_ive with me, and we would play in the garden, and Dorry should have turke_ive times a day if he liked. And we'd have a machine to darn the stockings, and another machine to put the bureau drawers in order, and we'd never sew o_nit garters, or do anything we didn't want to. That's what I'd like to  _be_.
  • But now I'll tell you what I mean to  _do_."
  • "Isn't it the same thing?" asked Cecy.
  • "Oh, no!" replied Katy, "quite different; for you see I mean to  _do_omething grand. I don't know what, yet; but when I'm grown up I shall fin_ut." (Poor Katy always said "when I'm grown up," forgetting how very much sh_ad grown already.) "Perhaps," she went on, "it will be rowing out in boats, and saving peoples' lives, like that girl in the book. Or perhaps I shall g_nd nurse in the hospital, like Miss Nightingale. Or else I'll head a crusad_nd ride on a white horse, with armor and a helmet on my head, and carry _acred flag. Or if I don't do that, I'll paint pictures, or sing, o_calp—sculp,—what is it? you know—make figures in marble. Anyhow it shall b_something_. And when Aunt Izzie sees it, and reads about me in the newspaper_he will say, 'The dear child! I always knew she would turn out an ornament t_he family,' People very often say, afterward, that they 'always knew,'"
  • concluded Katy sagaciously.
  • "Oh, Katy! how beautiful it will be!" said Clover, clasping her hands. Clove_elieved in Katy as she did in the Bible.
  • "I don't believe the newspapers would be so silly as to print things abou_you_ , Katy Carr," put in Elsie, vindictively.
  • "Yes they will!" said Clover; and gave Elsie a push.
  • By and by John and Dorry trotted away on mysterious errands of their own.
  • "Wasn't Dorry funny with his turkey?" remarked Cecy; and they all laughe_gain.
  • "If you won't tell," said Katy, "I'll let you see Dorry's journal. He kept i_nce for almost two weeks, and then gave it up. I found the book, thi_orning, in the nursery closet."
  • All of them promised, and Katy produced it from her pocket. It began thus:
  • "March 12.—Have resolved to keep a jurnal.
  • March 13.—Had rost befe for diner, and cabage, and potato and appel sawse, an_ice puding. I do not like rice puding when it is like ours. Charley Slack'_ind is rele good. Mush and sirup for tea.
  • March 19.—Forgit what did. John and me saved our pie to take to schule.
  • March 21.—Forgit what did. Gridel cakes for brekfast. Debby didn't fry enuff.
  • March 24.—This is Sunday. Corn befe for dinnir. Studdied my Bibel leson. Aun_ssy said I was gredy. Have resollved not to think so much about things t_te. Wish I was a beter boy. Nothing pertikeler for tea.
  • March 25.—Forgit what did.
  • March 27.—Forgit what did.
  • March 29.—Played.
  • March 31.—Forgit what did.
  • April 1.—Have dissided not to kepe a jurnal enny more."
  • Here ended the extracts; and it seemed as if only a minute had passed sinc_hey stopped laughing over them, before the long shadows began to fall, an_ary came to say that all of them must come in to get ready for tea. It wa_readful to have to pick up the empty baskets and go home, feeling that th_ong, delightful Saturday was over, and that there wouldn't be another for _eek. But it was comforting to remember that Paradise was always there; an_hat at any moment when Kate and Aunt Izzie were willing, they had only t_limb a pair of bars—very easy ones, and without any fear of an angel wit_laming sword to stop the way—enter in, and take possession of their Eden.