book cover

The Adventures of ELIZABETH ANN.




[c 1923 by Barse & Co.]

frontis: 'She began to hand the carvings down to Emma' + title pg




Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her Josephine Lawrence website; please do not use on other sites without permission

"Do you live on the train?" asked Elizabeth Ann.

The young colored woman, who was just slipping a clean blue frock over the head of the little girl, laughed.

"Bless you, no, honey," she said in her pleasant voice. "I live in Chicago and go home after every trip. There, you're buttoned up and your hair-ribbon's tied. Is that the way your ma fixes it?"

Elizabeth Ann stood on tiptoe to see her hair-ribbon in the glass over the wash-bowl.

."My mother makes it stand up higher," she answered.

Then so suddenly that no one was more surprised than Elizabeth Ann, great tears came into her blue eyes. They would have run down her face and splashed on the clean dress, if someone had not knocked at the door of the dressing-room.

"Is my little girl ready for breakfast?" asked a deep voice.

Elizabeth Ann dried her eyes hastily. It would never do to have the conductor think she was crying.

"She's all ready, Mr. Hobart," said the colored woman, straightening her own white apron and the little girl's hair-ribbon, and opening the door apparently all at once. "Here she is!"

The big, gray-haired man in the blue uniform of a train conductor held out his hand.

"Well, Sister, you look as fresh as a daisy," he told her, smiling down at her. "How did you like sleeping on the train ?"

Elizabeth Ann thought for a minute.

"Why, I just slept," she replied carefully. "I thought it would be exciting, but it wasn't, really."

"You're up a good half hour before the rest of the car," said the conductor. "I like to see a little girl ready to get up mornings. Feel as if you could eat a mite of breakfast?"

"Yes," she answered him, she was hungry.

"I'll take you to the dining-car," the conductor promised. "You'll be around to-day if you're needed, won't you, Caroline?"

The young colored woman, whose name was Caroline, smiled, showing beautiful even white teeth. She had a very kind, good-natured face, and Elizabeth Ann was sure she should like her, though she had never seen her until that morning.

"Yes, Mr. Hobart," said Caroline. "I'll be right here all day. The ladies won't let me get very far away. And if little Missy wants me I'll know it."

Elizabeth Ann put her small hand in the large one the conductor held out to her, and together they walked through several cars until they came to one Mr. Hobart said was the "diner."

A tall colored man with a white napkin over his arm, met them at the door.

"This is a little lady I have in my charge, Fred," said Mr. Hobart, steadying Elizabeth Ann as a lurch of the train almost knocked her off her feet. "I want you to look out for her, see that she has a pleasant table, and eats the right things, you know."

"Yes sir, yes sir," replied the colored man eagerly. "Here's a nice place, right by the window. She's kind of little to be travelling all alone, now, isn't she?"

The conductor was lifting Elizabeth Ann into a chair before one of the tables, and she thought she heard him say, "Sh!" but she couldn't be sure. The colored man fastened a large white napkin under her chin, and when she looked up Mr. Hobart was turning to go.

"Aren't you going to eat breakfast?" asked Elizabeth Ann.

" Oh, I had mine an hour ago," said the big conductor. "You just tell Fred what you want, and he'll bring it to you. And if I don't come back for you, he'll show you the way to your car."

Elizabeth Ann felt a bit queer as the blue uniform, with Mr. Hobart in it, went out of the car, but when she happened to glance across the aisle and saw a little white-haired man sitting at another table with his handkerchief to his eyes, she was so surprised she forgot the queer feeling. Fred was at the other end of the car (she hoped he was telling someone to bring her breakfast for she was really very hungry) and no one seemed to be paying any attention to the gentleman who was crying. There were not more than three or four other people in the car, anyway, and each one was reading a newspaper.

Elizabeth Ann slipped out of her seat and crossed the aisle.

"Don't you feel well?" she said gently, putting a timid little hand on the gentleman's coat sleeve.

He jumped as though she had startled him, and took the handkerchief away from his eyes. Elizabeth Ann saw that he had very black eyes and a mustache as white as his hair. His face was thin and there was a line between his eyes like the one Mother said was a "worry frown" when she tried to smooth it out from Daddy's face.

What he saw was a little girl in a blue smocked gingham dress and. tan socks and sandals. Her dark brown hair was bobbed and fluffy and tied back from her blue eyes with a perky blue hair-ribbon. A round gold locket swung on a little gold chain fastened around her neck.

"Don't you feel weir?" repeated this little girl. "Are you sorry for something T'

The little, white-haired man seemed to understand then.

"It was this silly orange juice," he explained. "It flew in my eye and almost put it out."

"I thought you were crying," said Elizabeth Ann, relieved to find that he wasn't. " Orange juice does make your eyes smart, doesn't it? That's why my mother squeezes it into a glass."

Fred, the colored man, came back just then with another colored man who carried a tray. "Here's you-all's breakfast," said Fred to Elizabeth Ann, and he looked as though he didn't know what to say at finding her out of her seat.

"Just a minute, Fred," ordered the little, white-haired man who seemed to know him. "This young lady has been kind enough to make friends with me and I don't want her hurried. Where are the rest of your family, dear?" he said.

"There's just me," said Elizabeth Ann bravely, and the queer feeling came back.

"She's in charge of Mr. Hobart," put in Fred.

Again the little, white-haired man seemed to understand.

"I'm all alone, too," he said. "Why can't we have breakfast together '?"

And almost before she knew it, Elizabeth Ann was seated opposite to him and Fred had placed a bowl of oatmeal and cream before her. The dining-car was filling up rapidly now, and Fred had three other colored men to help him. Elizabeth Ann enjoyed watching the people, though they were all grown-ups. Fred did not forget her, but brought her egg and toast and a glass of milk when she had finished the oatmeal.

"He's a very thoughtful man, isn't he?" she said shyly to the little, white-haired man. "Don't you think so, Mr. —"

"You may call me Mr. Robert," said her new friend. "And will you tell me your name ?"

"My name is Elizabeth Ann Loring," she answered readily. "I'm named for my two grandmas. I never saw them, but I think they had pretty names, don't you? And I'm going to visit my three aunties—one after the other. This is the first time I ever rode on a train. ' '

"Then it is an adventure," Mr. Robert said smilingly. "I can't remember when I haven't ridden on trains."

Elizabeth Ann liked him and she found her- self telling him all about this wonderful first trip of hers and the things that were going to happen to her.

"Mother and Daddy," she said earnestly. "Have gone to Japan. That's pretty far off and they may be gone a year. They couldn't take me 'cause it's not staying one place; Daddy has to travel all over. But they're going to send me some of everything they see. All our 'lations live in the East—I'm going to visit my Aunt Isabel and my Aunt Hester and my Aunt Jennie till Mother and Daddy come back. Not all at once, you know, but taking turns. Aunt Isabel lives in New York and I'm to go there first."

"If you've never ridden on a train, I don't believe you've ever lived in a large city," said Mr. Robert.

Elizabeth Ann shook her head.

"We live on the ranch," she said. "Daddy takes me places in the car, but not on a train. Next year I'm going to school and ride a pony."

"How old are you?" Mr. Robert asked.

" Seven," answered the little girl. "Do you suppose New York is nice?"

"Well, it's big and noisy and, yes, I suppose it is 'nice,' " said Mr. Robert, stirring his coffee slowly. "But I like the country better. Do people go to school when they're seven?"

A little dimple dented Elizabeth Ann's left cheek.

"I'm going!" she announced triumphantly. "Daddy said I should. Then I'll have boys and girls to play with. There aren't any on this train, are there?"

"There may be in some of the other cars," Mr. Robert replied. "I haven't been through the train."

"Could I go look?" asked Elizabeth Ann. "I brought my biggest doll, but I would rather; have a little girl to play with."

"I think, if I were you, I'd ask Mr. Hobart before you try to find a playmate," advised Mr. Robert gravely. "Mother put you in his charge, didn't she? And that means you must ask him about things first. "

"Mother and Daddy said the conductor would look after me," replied Elizabeth Ann, finishing her toast and trying to untie her nap- kin. "I didn't know his name till Caroline told me this morning. I was asleep when Daddy put me in bed last night—did you know they call the beds berths on a train? Mother woke me up when she said good-bye—she was crying—"

Elizabeth Ann winked her eyes very fast indeed.

"I'll untie that napkin for you," offered Mr. Robert. "Who is Caroline?"

"Caroline is the girl who helped me get dressed," explained Elizabeth Ann, getting out of her chair and turning around so that Mr. Robert could reach the knot at the back of her neck. "She is a very nice girl. She says she lives in Chicago. She helps the ladies fasten their dresses and brings them smelling salts. Is it half-past seven yet? Mother and Daddy said their ship was going to sail at half-past seven this morning."

Mr. Robert had unfastened the napkin and now he dabbed gently at the blue eyes of the little wearer.

"I'm not crying," she insisted. "Could I see your watch? I can tell time if I count the numbers."

Mr. Robert drew out his watch and held it toward her.

"It is a quarter past eight," he said cheer- fully. "I'll tell you what to do—you go get this big doll you speak of and come out with me on the observation platform; you'll like that. I'll see Caroline and Mr. Hobart and tell them where you will be, so that will be all right."

"What is an—an observation platform'?" asked Elizabeth Ann curiously.

"The back porch of the train," was Mr. Robert's mysterious answer.

On to chapter 2

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