Gateway to the Classics: About Harriet by Clara Whitehill Hunt
 
About Harriet by  Clara Whitehill Hunt

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What Harriet Did on Saturday

T HE very minute her eyes opened the next morning Harriet called:—

"Is the sun shining? Are we going to the beach to-day?"

And her Mother answered:—

"Yes, it is exactly the right kind of a day for the beach."

You may be sure it did not take Harriet long to dress on that  morning. And poor Florella May got no attention at all. She lay in her little crib in her nightie for another long day, but she didn't seem to mind it a bit. As her little Mother often remarked, Florella May had a very nice disposition.

Harriet was so excited that she could not eat enough of her oatmeal to uncover the Japanese garden. She could hardly wait for Father and Mother to get ready to start, but it was really only a short time before they were closing the big front door and walking down the street toward the trolley car.

Father carried the suitcase which held the lunch-boxes, the towel, Harriet's rompers, Father's book, and Mother's knitting. Mother carried a cloak for Harriet in case cool winds should blow up before the end of the day. And Harriet held a bright red pail and a shiny new shovel, and you  know what they  were for!

Down at the corner they stopped for the trolley car. Although it was so early in the morning the very first car that came along was almost full of happy little boys and girls with their mothers and aunties and their lunches and pails and shovels.


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There weren't many fathers on the car, because not all the little children were so fortunate as Harriet in having a Father who could play with her on Saturdays now and then.

The motorman stopped the car, Father helped Mother into a seat and swung Harriet up into Mother's lap, then he stood in the aisle because all the seats were filled.

It was not a very pretty ride through the city streets, but Harriet was interested in everything she saw. Presently they passed the Park, and that was lovely. It was so pleasant to look in under the trees and see the children at play on the soft grass.


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In less than an hour they were getting out of the car and walking through a great high open building out on to the board walk from which they could see Old Ocean, with his little waves dancing and winking in the sunshine, and his big waves rumbling and roaring as they broke on the sand under the board walk.

After a long, happy first look at the water and some deep, long breaths of its salt breezes, Father said:—

"Come, we don't want to stay here among the merry-go-rounds and side-shows. Let's go over to Sunset Beach where we can get down on the sand and enjoy the waves close at hand."

So they walked and walked, first on the board walk and then on the sand. Harriet kept her hand in Father's because this was her first visit to the Ocean for almost a year, and she was a little bit afraid that the big roaring waves might run up so high that they would gobble her up and take her down, down into the green water to feed the little fishes.

After a while they came to a nice quiet part of the beach and Father paid a man for two easy seats with awnings over them to shade them from the sun. Then Mother told Harriet she might take off her shoes and stockings and put on her rompers.

Oh, how good the soft sand felt to little feet that had been cooped up in shoes and stockings for most of a year!


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Very soon Harriet lost all fear of her old friend the Ocean, and was merrily playing "tag" with the little waves, which every now and then caught up with her and gave her feet a splashing.

After she had run and jumped and pranced and squealed, "letting off steam," as Father called it, she ran to her Mother and said:—

"Mother, I'm hungry!"

"I thought so!" said Mother, with a laugh. "Very well, you may have a little lunch now to make up for the breakfast you did not eat, but we'll not have our real luncheon until later."

So Harriet sat down beside her Mother's chair and ate two thin bread-and-butter sandwiches and one large cooky, and then she drank some milk out of one of the little paper cups that Mother always kept on hand for picnics and traveling.

After her little lunch was finished, she took her pail and shovel down to where the sand was damp. First she filled the pail even full of sand and patted down the top, very smooth, with her shovel. Then she pressed her hands into the smooth sand; and then she trotted up to her Father, saying:—

"See, Daddy, I have two hands in my pail and two hands on my arms."

"So I see," said Father. "You are quite a handy young person."

Next Harriet dug a deep hole, sat down and put her feet into it, and then scooped the sand back into the hole, burying her feet tightly under the sand.

"Oh, Daddy!" she shrieked. "I've lost my feet. The little gnomes down in the ground are pulling them!"

"You don't say so!" said Father. "Then I suppose you'll have to make those two extra hands serve in place of feet hereafter."

"I know! Like Jocko! His back feet are almost like hands," said Harriet.

Jocko was a little monkey at the "Zoo." He was very tame and all the children loved him. You shall hear about him in another story.


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Next Harriet decided that she would make a house. With the edge of her shovel she marked out a square on the sand. This was the kitchen of her house. Then she made a little mound of sand against one wall of her kitchen, cut off the top and the sides of the mound so that they were flat instead of rounding, and this was the kitchen stove. She marked six little circles on the top of the stove for the places on which to set the cooking dishes over the gas flames.

After looking with pride at her stove, she was about to begin on a table, when a little girl with sparkling black eyes ran up to her and, after a look at Harriet's work, said:—

"Hello! Are you making a house?"

"Yes," answered Harriet.

"I'll make one next door and then we can visit each other."

"All right," said Harriet, very much pleased to have a playmate.

The two little girls worked busily side by side for some minutes. By the time Harriet had finished her kitchen, and Marjorie—that was the new little girl's name—had marked out a good many rooms, but had not furnished any of them, the little neighbors began making calls on each other. And before long Marjorie exclaimed:—

"Oh, let's dig some wells and see the waves come up and fill them!"

So they left their houses unfinished and began to dig a number of deep holes, keeping watch to run out of the way when a wave now and then ran up high and filled the holes.

In a short time Marjorie said:—

"My Mother brought my tin dishes in her bag. Let's make some pies and cakes in them."

Marjorie scampered off and soon came running back with her tiny doll kitchen dishes in her hands. She gave half of them to Harriet. In a few minutes each little cook had made a row of pies and cakes and cookies which looked so good that Marjorie exclaimed:—

"They look good enough to eat. Let's!"


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By this time Harriet was so charmed with her lively new friend that she was ready to do anything Marjorie suggested, so those two little girls put as much as a spoonful of damp sand into their silly little mouths!

Then how they spluttered and made wry faces, and Marjorie said:—

"Ugh! It's almost as bad as medicine. Oh, I'll tell you! Play you're sick and I'm the doctor and I'll come to visit you."

"W-e-ll—but don't make me take any bad medicine," said Harriet doubtfully.

"No; I'll just say you are run down and need to go to the country at once to rest."

This sounded very nice. The next thing to do was to make a bed. This they did by digging a long, shallow place in the warm, dry part of the sand. First Harriet lay down in the bed, then Marjorie tried it; but it was not big enough for Marjorie, who was two years older than Harriet.

So Marjorie changed her mind about being the doctor, and decided that she would be a patient too, lying in a hospital bed next to Harriet's.

Harriet and Marjorie had a beautiful morning, and when their Mothers called them to lunch they agreed to play together again after they had eaten.

Oh, what a good lunch Mother had brought, all wrapped in waxed paper that had kept the sandwiches so fresh. There were lettuce sandwiches and chicken sandwiches and egg sandwiches, and little round sandwiches made of brown bread and cream cheese. There were olives and cookies and oranges and pink-and-white candies. There was milk to drink for Harriet and hot coffee from the thermos bottle for Father and Mother. And they ate and ate till every crumb was gone. And after it was all eaten Harriet didn't seem to care about playing!

She climbed up into Father's lap and said:—

"Tell me a story, Daddy, please."


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So Father, looking out over the wide, wide waters, away out to where the sky seemed to come down and rest on the ocean, told about brave sailors, and lighthouses shining out in the dark to save ships from going to pieces upon the rocks; and about tiny little coral animals that build big islands; and about divers who go down to the bottom of the sea for the pearls that are hidden away in oyster shells. And as Harriet watched the lovely sea gulls, now flying high in the air, now floating like little boats on the water, Mother recited a poem that she had learned when she was a little girl. It was called "The Sea Gull," and it made Harriet look at the gulls with new wonder to think how fearless they were on the stormy waves and the night-black sea.

After a time Marjorie came running up, and Father said:—

"You must introduce me to your new friend, Harriet."

So Harriet said, "This is Marjorie, Daddy and Mother."

And Marjorie shook hands with Harriet's Father and Mother, and then Father and the little girls had a game of romps.

Father was a galloping horse with each little girl taking a turn as a rider on his back. And when Father made-believe that his drivers had worn him out, although they teased him to play with them longer, he galloped back to his seat beside Mother, and tumbling the little girls into the sand, he exclaimed:—

"Shoo! Shoo! You insatiable tyrants! I've got to get to work on this book."

So Marjorie and Harriet went back to their shovels, and they had such a good time that they were quite surprised when Harriet's Mother called:—

"Come, dear, it 's time for us to get ready to go home. We don't want to wait till the cars are crowded, as they will be later."

Harriet was sorry to say good-bye to Marjorie, but there was no help for it.

Soon the little bare feet were rubbed with the towel, the rompers came off and the shoes and stockings went on, the suitcase was packed, and Father, Mother, and Harriet were walking to the car.

Very soon after they were settled in the car Harriet fell asleep in Father's arms. The salt air and the play and the no afternoon nap had made her so sleepy that she only half-waked up when they got to their corner.

Father carried her over his shoulder to their home. And Mother undressed her and laid her in her little bed and she did not know anything about what was happening to her, she was so  sleepy!


So that is the end of the Second Story about Harriet and what she did on Saturday.


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