Author: Williams, Adene
Conduct of life — Juvenile fiction
Brothers and sisters — Juvenile fiction
Girls — Societies and clubs — Juvenile fiction
Young women — Conduct of life — Juvenile fiction
Students — Juvenile fiction
Diligence — Juvenile fiction
Success — Juvenile fiction
Books and reading — Juvenile fiction
Procrastination — Juvenile fiction
Study skills — Juvenile fiction
The Girl Warriors: A Book for Girls
The Girl Warriors
A BOOK FOR GIRLS
By ADENE WILLIAMS
David C. Cook Publishing Company
ELGIN, ILL.; OR
36 WASHINGTON STREET, CHICAGO.
By David C. Cook Publishing Company.
The Girl Warriors.
A BOOK FOR GIRLS.
By ADENE WILLIAMS.
Winnifred Burton sat all alone in the pleasant sitting-room, curled up in an easy-chair so large that her little figure was almost lost in its great depths. The fire in the open grate burned brightly, sending out little tongues of flame which made dancing shadows on the walls and ceiling, and flashed ever and anon on the bright hair and face and dress of the little girl sitting so quiet before it.
It was a dismal day near the close of January. Snow had been falling steadily all day, and the window-sill was already piled so high with it that by and by it would have to be brushed away in order to close the shutters. But Winnifred was so absorbed in the book she was reading that she knew nothing of all this. The book was a new edition of “The Giant Killer; or, The Battle That All Must Fight.” She was just reading how the brave but tempted Fides lay in the dreadful Pit of Despair; of how he had fallen back, bruised and bleeding, time after time, in his endeavors to cut and climb his way out, before he found the little cord of love which was strong enough to draw him out with scarcely an effort of his own.
Twilight was fast closing in around the little reader, and all the letters on the page were beginning to dance up and down. Impatiently shaking herself, Winnifred slipped down from her chair, gave the fire a little poke, and settled herself on the floor in front of it, holding the book so that she could see to read by the flickering light. But she had scarcely begun to do so, when the door opened. She gave a little jump, and turned quite red in the face.
But it was only her little brother Ralph, who said: “‘Innie, mamma says if ‘oo have ‘oor lessons done, ‘ou’se to come out and set the table for supper.”
Her lessons done! Winnie glanced at the pile of books lying on the table by the window. Yes, there they all were—her geography, history, grammar, arithmetic. When now would she have time to learn those lessons? And she felt that she had been dishonest, too, because her mother would perhaps have had something else for her to do, if she had not supposed she was studying hard. However, there was no help for it now, and with a rueful face she left the room.
Mrs. Burton was in the kitchen, so that Winnie escaped being questioned, but just now she was taking herself to task, for she had a very guilty conscience, and was wondering when she was going to begin fighting her giants. She knew only too well what one of them was, and she knew also that if she could not find time to learn those lessons, another punishment beside the stings of her conscience would await her on the morrow.
But presently her father and older brother came home; little Ralph ran to get their slippers, while they took off their wet boots; supper was put on the table, and they all sat down to the cheerful meal.
Mr. and Mrs. Burton had few rules for their household, but they had one which was imperative: nothing but cheerful faces and cheerful conversation was allowed at the table. Business or household worries were kept for private conference, and the little griefs of the children were not allowed to be mentioned.
Winnie soon forgot her anxiety in listening to the things that her father and brother Jack were saying, and, as the talk was about politics, and the tariff, and the state of the market, other little girls may not be so interested as Winnie tried to make herself believe that she was. So this will be a good time to describe them all, as they sit at the table.
All of their acquaintances spoke of the Burtons as a very happy family, and this opinion was undoubtedly correct, the reason for which will appear later.
Mr. Burton is a tall, handsome, young-looking man, with brown eyes having a merry twinkle in them; his eyebrows and moustache are dark and heavy, and his firm mouth and chin show character and decision.
Mrs. Burton looks as young as her husband, and Winnie is always taken by strangers to be her younger sister, which is a source of great delight and comfort to the girl, as she is very proud of her dainty and stylish mother. Mrs. Burton has soft brown hair, always prettily dressed; her eyes are a deep, soft blue, shaded by long, curling lashes, and with straight, delicate eyebrows above. Although she does much of the household work, she manages, in some mysterious manner, to keep her hands soft and white. Winnie sometimes steals up behind her mother and puts her own little brown hands beside one of the soft white ones with a little sigh—for she would like her own to be soft and white, too—but more often with a merry laugh.
Eighteen-year-old Jack, except that he gives promise of attaining his father’s noble inches, is much like his mother. He had been intended for one of the professions, but all of his talents and inclinations having pointed to business, his father finally yielded the point of having him go through college, and, upon his graduation from high-school the year previous, took him into his own real estate office.
Winnie has eyes and hair like her father, but, in spite of her twelve years, is so small and slight that she looks like a child of nine or ten.
Four-year-old Ralph is the pet and beauty of the family. His hair curls in loose rings all over his head. His hazel eyes have such large, dilating pupils, and such a way of shining when anything is given him, that his young aunts and uncles, together with Winnie and Jack, are always giving him something for the pleasure of seeing his wondering look.
“Well, my dear,” said Mr. Burton to his wife, as they rose from the table, “anything on the carpet for to-night?”
“Yes, if you don’t think the weather too bad, I’d like to call on Mrs. Brown after Ralph is put to bed.”
“Winnie, I should like you to accompany Jack in one of his new violin studies, while we are gone; but you must not forget that half past nine is your bed-time.”
“Now for the new music,” Jack said.—See page 6.
Poor Winnie! She dearly liked playing Jack’s accompaniments, but the unlearned lessons rose up before her, and she said, “Oh, mamma, I can’t to-night; I haven’t done my lessons!”
“Well, Winnie, this has happened three or four times within the last week. If several study bells in school and two hours in the afternoon are not sufficient for you to keep up with your classes, I’d rather you’d go back a year. I want you to be educated thoroughly, but I can’t have you ‘crammed,’ and you’re too young to do studying at night.”
“Mamma, that is time enough for me to do all my school work; but, like the Little Women, I have something to ‘ ’fess,’ and if you’ll let me study this time, I think that after this I’ll get through in the daytime.”
“Very well; but remember, if this is of frequent occurrence, I’ll have to consult Mr. Bowen and see if you are overworked.”
Jack and Mr. Burton had heard none of this conversation, having gone into the sitting-room for a game of chess, and Mrs. Burton and Winnie had remained in the dining-room.
Mrs. Burton went into the kitchen to give her orders for breakfast to Norah, and Winnie returned to the sitting-room with a strong determination to work so hard that she would make up for her self-indulgence of the afternoon. But little Ralph came running up to her with: “Now, ‘Innie, tell me a story.”
“Oh, Ralphie, Winnie can’t to-night; see, she has to learn something out of all these books;” and she pointed to the big pile of them that lay on the table.
“Well, den, me’ll wead the newspaper;” and he sat down on a hassock with a paper in his hand, and looked so cunning that Winnie had to go and give him a little hug before she could get to work.
She began with her greatest bugbear, United States History; not, however, without having cast one longing look at “The Giant Killer,” as it stood temptingly on the edge of the book case. But, saying to herself, “I’m bound to do it”—a phrase which had seemed to help her over difficulties so many times that she almost felt as if it were the phrase, and not the exertions which always followed the use of it, that was helpful to her—she applied herself with such concentration that, during the twenty minutes her mother remained out of the room, she learned quite thoroughly the three pages describing the Battle of Monmouth. In the meantime, Ralph had been put to bed, and Mrs. Burton had come in, cloaked and bonneted. As soon as their father and mother had gone, Jack said, “Now, Win, for the new music.”
“Oh, Jack, look here! There are two pages of descriptive geography, ten map questions, and a short account of the exports and imports of India to be learned, and I’ve six long problems in percentage to work.”
“Whew! Then my cake’s dough! But how is it that you have all this to do to-night? I thought we were to spend our evenings in helping and entertaining each other; that was what I understood mother to say when she changed your hour for bed from half past eight to half past nine. Ah! Win, I know what it is; you’ve been at your old tricks, you little bookworm!”
“Don’t tease, Jack. I’m sorry enough for it now, and I’ll be ready to help you to-morrow night.”
“To-morrow! Always to-morrow! But to-morrow our debating club meets, and that settles that. I’ll have to play without accompaniment, that’s all.”
Winnie heaved a sigh. It was a disappointment to her, too, but she resolutely forbore to say more about the matter. It took her, however, until nearly nine o’clock to learn her geography lesson, and when her bed-time came, she had but four of the problems solved. She would much have liked to remain up an hour longer, but of direct disobedience Mrs. Burton’s children were seldom guilty, so Winnie gathered up her books, ready to take to school in the morning, and went to her room.
Winnie was having a confused dream of a little dwarf, armed with a long column of figures, which he waved threateningly in the air; but as she advanced to seize them, thinking to use them for her lessons during the day, the dwarf commenced to grow, and, as she stood amazed and horror-struck, he attained the height of ten feet or so, and was still growing when she heard the tinkling of a bell, and a voice said: “Wizard, avaunt!” At this the giant disappeared, and the whole column of figures fell on the floor in a confused heap. She stooped to pick them up, when the bell rang again, this time louder, and she grasped—her brother Ralph, who was ringing the breakfast bell violently in her ears.
A little vexed, she was going to send him away and turn over for another nap, when suddenly she remembered her good resolutions of the evening before, and, to Ralph’s surprise, sprang up at once.
Having dressed herself, she turned the bedclothes back to air, and, with the exception of making her bed, which was done by Norah later in the day, put everything in her dainty pink room in nice order. Then she sat down to select her verse, it being the custom of the family for each to recite some passage from the Bible, about which they afterward had a little talk. She chose part of the second verse of the sixth chapter of 2d Corinthians: “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.”
When the bell rang for the family to gather, Winnie was ready to go down at once, without hurry or confusion, or being haunted by the thought that she was but half dressed. If she received no other reward, her mother’s approving smile as her daughter entered, made her feel quite happy.
Mr. Burton and Jack were not yet down, but came in almost directly. Her father read for that morning a part of the 107th Psalm, that most beautiful psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Then they all recited their verses. The mother had chosen hers from the chapter just read: “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Jack had chosen: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Ralph said, “Suffer little children,” which was his great standby. Mr. Burton had a few words to say about all of them, but about Winnie’s in particular; he spoke about its spiritual and religions meaning, and went on to say that it could be applied to all the affairs of life. He spoke of the folly as well as the sin of procrastination, that great destroyer of so many good deeds, which become utterly useless if done too late. He said that duties are like bricks used in building a house; if the foundation stones were left out, it would be impossible to make any use of those remaining. After the talk was finished, the family gathered around the piano, and sang a morning hymn.
Winnie was in very good spirits that morning; an approving conscience is a great help to cheerfulness and good temper. She cut Ralph’s steak for him, and pleased him very much by begging for one of his dollars, as she called the tiny cakes which Norah fried for her pet. She amused the others, also, by giving, in the phraseology of a school-girl of to-day, a graphic account of the way she imagined the redoubtable Captain Molly acted at the Battle of Monmouth.
Everything seemed to go well with her, and at half past eight she had her books in her arms, ready to take a leisurely stroll to school, although the unfinished problems still troubled her.
When she entered her room, three or four of the girls rushed up to her with: “Come on into the dressing-room, Win; we’re going to have a meeting of the B. S. S.”
“Oh, I can’t, girls!” said Winnie, it must be confessed very faintly, “I’ve two more problems to work, and I’ll just have time to do them before the bell rings, and during the first study bell.”
“Oh, bother the problems!” said Miriam Douglass, striking an attitude. “Let them go! What are problems, compared with the important business of the B. S. S.?”
But Winnie, collecting all her mental strength, and remembering her “I’m bound to” of the night before, resolutely drew back, saying, “I can’t, girls; for I’ve a giant to kill.”
The girls looked at her in amaze.
“A giant to kill! You look as if you’d kill a dozen, single-handed, you midge!” laughed tall Miriam, for Winnie was the youngest and smallest girl in the class. “Whatever do you mean?”
“I can’t stop to tell you now,” said Winnie, “for if I do, I’ll lose the first blow; but I’ll tell you about it at recess.”
“All right, since you’re determined,” said Fannie Allen; “and I say, girls, let’s postpone our meeting till then.”
“Agreed!” said the others; and each one, as they separated, went to her own seat and busied herself at some study, so quickly does a little leaven leaven the whole.
When recess came, Winnie explained to the three girls, and Miriam Douglass laughed at her and teased her not a little; but somehow no one minded Miriam’s teasing, she was so bright and good-natured with it all.
“I suppose,” said Miriam, munching her last piece of butterscotch—for be it known that the mysterious initials, about which the other girls of the class were “dancing crazy with curiosity,” as Miriam said, signified “Butter Scotch Society”—”you’ll be wanting us to give up the B. S. S. with all its sweet delights, and go about the world with drawn swords, and ‘front like Jove, to threaten or command,’ neither giving nor receiving quarter. I can see myself now, as I exclaim, ‘Base spirit, beware, lest with this trusty sword I hew thee in pieces!'” And she flourished her ruler with such spirit that the girls all applauded. Just then, however, the bell rang for the close of recess, and they were obliged to go to their recitations.
Thanks to Winnie’s determination, and her vigorous use of the study bells, she received a perfect mark in all her lessons for the day, but she went home in the afternoon tired and jaded from the hard work.
She found her mother in the sitting-room, sewing, and said, as she threw down her books, “Now, mamma, I want to make my confession, and also to thank you for allowing me to work last night. I know you have often spoken to me about my bad habit of putting everything off till the last minute, and it is almost always because I get hold of a story book and cannot lay it down. Yesterday it was ‘The Giant Killer,’ and I was so interested in Fides’ battle with Giant Hate, that I forgot I was neglecting my own faults to watch him conquer his. But now I’m going to begin killing my own giants, and I’ll commence with my worst, procrastination; for indeed, as Miss Brownlow is always telling us, it is the thief of time. And I want you to watch me and help me. As to-morrow will be Saturday, I want to get every one of my lessons for Monday, so that I can use the Monday study bells for Tuesday’s lessons; then I can always get through in the afternoon.”
“I think that will be a very good plan, Winnie; you will then feel at ease each day about the work for the succeeding one, and an absence of worry will keep your mental faculties in good condition, so that you can do much more work with less strain of mind or body. And it will leave your evenings for reading or such other recreation as may occur from time to time, for you know I do not believe in all work and no play. I want to run down to Shillito’s now to do a little shopping, and I hope you will be able, while I am gone, to resist your favorite temptation, for I really believe that many of our temptations are favorites.”
As soon as Mrs. Burton, taking Ralph with her, had gone, Winnie settled herself resolutely to work at her problems. She had just become quite interested in finding out the “population of a certain village,” which increased a certain per cent, the first year, etc., when the bell rang, and answering the call, she found Miriam Douglass. Here was a dilemma. But she said:
“Miriam, I’m just at work on my problems for Monday. Come right in, and we’ll work them together.”
“Oh, Winnie, we’ll have all day to-morrow to get our lessons. Do let’s have a good time to-day.”
“I promised mamma that I would do all my lessons before Monday, but, of course, Miriam, if you don’t wish to, I’ll stop. I do think, though, that we’ll enjoy ourselves just as well if we do this work.”
“All right, Winnie, go ahead,” said Miriam laughing. “I guess my brain can stand it if yours can.”
The two girls applied themselves so well, Miriam being particularly bright in arithmetic, that by the time Mrs. Burton returned, they not only had the whole set of problems solved, but neatly copied and ready to “hand in.”
Mrs. Burton herself helped them with their analysis in grammar, and that being Miriam’s great stumbling block, she was delighted with the assistance. She accepted Mrs. Burton’s invitation to stay to supper, after which, Mr. Burton and Jack both being out, Winnie’s mother proposed that the girls should take turns reading aloud to her from the book Winnie had been telling them about.
Both girls had been well taught, and it was a pleasure to listen to their fresh, well modulated voices. Miriam, though far less imaginative than Winnifred, enjoyed the book very much, and said, half in fun:
“Why can’t we turn our B. S. S. into a club to fight our giants? We might then be a help instead of a drawback to each other, as I know we are now, for we’re always upsetting each other’s attempts to do right.”
“I think that is a very good idea,” said Mrs. Burton. “Union and organization are such powers in this world, that I do not see why they should not help four little girls to do right. You might have social meetings occasionally to report progress, and you could have a good time beside. Talk it over on Monday with Gretta and Fannie, and if you want help, come to me.”
“Oh, Mrs. Burton, you always do think of the nicest things! That’s just what we will do, and we’ll report a week from to-night. But now it is time for me to go.”
As Miriam lived only a square away, Mrs. Burton and Winnie walked over with her, and on their return Winnie went to bed happy and contented.