[Illustration: "Why, we're millionaires, Neale," Agnes declared.]
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS' ODD FIND
WHERE THEY MADE IT;
AND WHAT THE STRANGE
DISCOVERY LED TO
GRACE BROOKS HILL
Author of "The Corner House Girls," "The Corner
House Girls Under Canvas," etc.
R. EMMETT OWEN
BARSE & HOPKINS
NEW YORK, N. Y.--NEWARK, N. J.
BOOKS FOR GIRLS
The Corner House Girls Series
By Grace Brooks Hill
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS AT SCHOOL
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS UNDER CANVAS
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS IN A PLAY
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS' ODD FIND
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ON A TOUR
(Other volumes in preparation)
BARSE & HOPKINS
Barse & Hopkins
The Corner House Girls' Odd Find
PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.
I A Find in the Garret 9
II "A Perfectly Savage Santa Claus" 22
III Dorothy's Burglar 30
IV The Family Album--And Other Things 36
V No News for Christmas 41
VI Treasure Trove 48
VII "God Rest Ye, Merrie Gentlemen" 55
VIII Where Is Neale O'Neil? 67
IX Ruth Is Suspicious 74
X What Mr. Con Murphy Did not Know 84
XI Some Excitement 95
XII Miss Pepperill's Disaster 105
XIII Agnes in the Woods 115
XIV Barnabetta 128
XV Agnes Shoulders Responsibility 137
XVI Several Arrivals 150
XVII At Cross Purposes 161
XVIII What Happened in the Night 171
XIX The Key to the Closet 183
XX Lemuel Aden's Diary 193
XXI "Everything at Sixes and at Sevens" 202
XXII Barnabetta Confesses 214
XXIII Who Was the Robber? 225
XXIV Neale O'Neil Flings a Bomb 237
XXV Agnes Is Perfectly Happy 247
"Why, we're millionaires, Neale," Agnes declared Frontispiece
And there was the baby, under a veil, sleeping
peacefully as could be 106
"You think I'm a thief. I won't stay here" 167
"You'll break it!" gasped Agnes. "That's what I
mean to do," said Ruth 223
THE CORNER HOUSE GIRLS ODD FIND
A FIND IN THE GARRET
The fireboard before the great chimney-place in the spacious
of the old Corner House in Milton had been removed by Uncle Rufus, and
in the dusk of the winter's afternoon the black pit of it yawned,
ogre-like, upon the festive
The shadows were black under the big tree, the tip of which touched the
very high ceiling and which had just been set up in the far corner and
not yet festooned. The girls were all busy bringing tinsel and
glittering balls and cheery
red bells and strings of pink and white
popcorn, while yards and yards of evergreen
"rope," with which to trim
the room itself, were heaped in a corner.
It was the day but one before Christmas, and without the gaslight--or
even the usual gas-log fire on the hearth--the dining room was gloomy
even at mid-afternoon. Whenever Dot Kenway passed the black opening
under the high and ornate mantel, she shuddered.
It was a creepy, deliciousshudder
that the smallest Corner House girl
experienced, for she said to Tess, her confidant and the next oldest of
the four sisters:
"Of course, I know it's the only way Santa Claus ever comes. But--but I
should think he'd be afraid of--of rats or things. I don't see why he
can't come in at the door; it'd be more respecterful."
"I s'pose you mean respectable," sighed Tess. "But where would he hitch
his reindeer? You know he has to tie them to the chimney on the roof."
"Why does he?" demanded the inquisitive
Dot. "There's a perfectly
hitching post by our side gate on Willow Street."
"Who ever heard of such a thing!" exclaimed Tess, with exasperation. "Do
you s'pose Santa Claus would come to the side door and knock like the
old clo's man? You are the most ridiculous
child, Dot Kenway," concluded
Tess, with her most grown-up
"Say," said the quite unabashed Dot, reflectively, "do you know what
Sammy Pinkney says?"
"Nothing very good, I am sure," rejoined her sister, tartly, for just at
this time Sammy Pinkney, almost their next-door neighbor, was very much
in Tess Kenway's bad books. "What can you expect of a boy who wants to
be a pirate?"
"Well," Dot proclaimed, "Sammy says he doesn't believe there is such a
person as Santa Claus."
"Oh!" gasped Tess, startled by this heresy. Then, after reflection, she
added: "Well, when you come to think of it, I don't suppose there _is_
any Santa for Sammy Pinkney."
"Oh, Tess!" almost groaned the smaller girl.
"No, I don't," repeated
Tess, with greater confidence. "Ruthie says if
we don't 'really and truly' believe in Santa, there isn't any--for us!
And he only comes to good children, anyway. How could you expect Sammy
Pinkney to have a Santa Claus?"
"He says," said Dot, eagerly, "that they are only make believe. Why,
there is one in Blachstein & Mapes', where Ruth trades; and another in
Millikin's; and there's the Salvation Army Santa Clauses on the
"Pooh!" exclaimed Tess, tossing her head. "They are only representations
of Santa Claus. They're men dressed up. Why! little boys have Santa
Claus suits to play in, just as they have Indian suits and cowboy
"But--but is there really and truly a Santa Claus?" questioned Dot, in an
awed tone. "And does he keep a book with your name in it? And if you
don't get too many black marks through the year do you get presents? And
if you do behave
too badly will he leave a whip, or something nasty, in
your stocking? Say, Tess, do you s'pose 'tis _so_?"
That was a stiff one--even for Tess Kenway's abounding faith. She was
silent for a moment.
"Say! _do_ you?" repeated
the smallest Corner House girl.
"I tell you, Dot," Tess said, finally, "I _want_ to believe it. I just
_do_. It's like fairies and elfs. We want to believe in them, don't we?
It's just like your Alice-doll being alive."
"Well!" exclaimed Dot, stoutly, "she's just as good as alive!"
"Of course she is, Dottie," said Tess, eagerly. "And so's Santa Claus.
And--and when we stop believing in him, we won't have near so much fun at
Just then Agnes came in from the kitchen with a heaping pan of warm
"Here, you kiddies," she cried, "run and get your needles and thread. We
haven't near enough popcorn strung. I believe Neale O'Neil ate more than
he strung last night, I never did see such a hungry boy!"
"Mrs. MacCall say it's 'cause he's growning," said Dot, solemnly.
"He, he!" chuckled Agnes. "He should be 'groaning' after all he gobbled
down last night. And I burned my finger and roasted my face, popping
She set down the dish of flaky white puff-balls on a stool, so it would
be handy for the little girls. Both brought their sewing
squatted down on the floor in the light from a long window. Tess was
threading the popcorn.
"What's the matter with you, Dot Kenway?" she demanded, as the smallest
Corner House girl seemed still to be fussing with her thread and needle,
her face puckered up and a frown on her small brow. "You're the slowest
"I--I believe this needle's asleep, Tess," wailed Dot, finally.
"Asleep?" gasped the other. "What nonsense!"
"Yes, 'tis--so now!" ejaculated Dot. "Anyway, I can't get its eye open."
A low laugh sounded behind them, and a tall girl swooped down on the
floor and put her arms around the smallest Corner House girl.
"Let sister do it for you, honeybee," said the newcomer. "Won't the eye
open? Well! we'll make it--there!"
This was Ruth, the oldest of the four Kenway sisters. She was dark, not
particularly pretty, but, as Tess often said, awfully
good! Ruth had a
smile that illuminated her rather plain face and won her friends
everywhere. Moreover, she had a beautiful, low, sweet voice--a "mother
voice," Agnes said.
Ruth had been mothering her three younger sisters for a long time
now--ever since their real mother had died, leaving Agnes and Tess and
Dot, to say nothing of Aunt Sarah Maltby, in the older girl's care. And
faithfully had Ruth Kenway performed her duty.
Agnes was the pretty sister (although Tess, with all her gravity,
promised to equal the fly-away in time) for she had beautiful light
hair, a rosy complexion, and large blue eyes, of an expression most
innocent but in the depths of which lurked the Imps of Mischief.
Little Dot was dark, like Ruth; only she was most lovely--her hair wavy
and silky, her little limbs round, her eyes bright, and her lips as red
as an ox-heart cherry!
The little girls went on stringing the popcorn, and Ruth and Agnes began
to trim the tree, commencing at the very top. Nestling among the pointed
branches of the fir was a winged
cupid, with bow and arrow.
"That's so much better than a bell. Everybody has bells," said Agnes,
from the step-ladder, as she viewed the cupid with satisfaction.
"It's an awfullycunning
little fat, white baby," agreed Dot, from the
floor. "But I should be afraid, if I were his mother, to let him play
with bows-an'-arrows. Maybe he'll prick himself."
"We'll speak to Venus about that," chuckled Agnes. "Don't believe
anybody ever mentioned it to her."
Dot, gravely. "Why, that's the name of the lady that
lives next to Uncle Rufus' Petunia. She couldn't be that little baby's
mother for she's--oh!--_awful_ black!"
"Aggie was speaking
of another Venus, Dot," laughed Ruth. "Fasten those
little candle-holders securely, Aggie."
"Sure!" agreed the second, and slangy, sister.
"I really wish we could light the whole room with candles, and not have
the gas at all," Ruth said. "It would be much nicer. Don't you think
"It would be scrumptious!" Aggie cried. "And you've got such a lot of
those nice, fat, bayberry candles. Let's do it!"
"But there are not enough candlesticks."
"You can get 'em at the five-and-ten-cent store," proposed Tess, who
favored that busy emporium, "because you can get such a lot for your
"Goosey!" exclaimed Agnes. "We don't want _cheap_ ones. How would they
look beside those lovely old silver ones of Uncle Peter Stower's?" and
she turned to look at the great candelabra on the highboy.
Just then the door from the butler's pantry
opened slowly and a
grizzled, kinky head, with a shiny, brown, bald spot on top, was thrust
into the room.
"I say, missie!" drawled the voice belonging to the ancient head, "is
yo' done seen anyt'ing ob dat denim bag I has fo' de soiled napkins?
Pechunia, she done comin' fo' de wash, an' I got t' collect togeddah all
I kin fin' dis week. Dat fool brack woman," Uncle Rufus added with
disgust, "won't do but dis one wash twill happen New Years--naw'm! She
jes' got t' cel'brate, she say. Ma' soul! what's a po', miserble nigger
woman got t' cel'brate fo' Ah asks ye?"
"Why, Uncle Rufus!" cried Agnes. "Christmas is a birthday that
_everybody_ ought to celebrate. And I'm sure Petunia has many things to
make her happy."
"Just look at all her children!" put in Tess.
"Alfredia, and Jackson Montgomery Simms, and little Burne-Jones Whistler
and Louise Annette," Dot began to intone, naming the roll of Petunia
"Don't! Stop!" begged Agnes, with her hands over her ears and sitting
down on the top step of the ladder.
"Ma soul!" chuckled Uncle Rufus, "if chillens come lak' Chris'mus
presents, all de rich w'ite folks would hab 'em an' de po' nigger folks
would be habbin' wot de paper calls 'race sooincide'--sho' would!"
"I haven't seen the laundry
bag, Unc' Rufus," said Ruth, deep in
Here Dot spoke up. "I 'spect I know where it is, Unc' Rufus," she said.
"Wal! I 'spected some ob yo' chillen done had it."
"You know," said Dot, seriously, "my Alice-doll is real weakly. The
doctors don't give me much 'couragement about her. Her lungs are
weak--they have been, you know, ever since that awful Trouble girl buried
her with the dried apples."
"Dat Lillie Treble. Ah 'members hit--sho!" chuckled Uncle Rufus, the
Corner House girls' chief factotum, who was a tall, thin, brown old
negro, round shouldered with age, but "spry and pert," as he said
"And the doctors," went on Dot, waxing serious, and her imagination
"working over time," as Neale O'Neil would have said, "say it's best for
folks with weak lungs to sleep out of doors. So Neale's built her a
sleeping porch outside one of the windows in our bedroom--Tess' and
mine--and--and I used your napkin
bag, Unc' Rufus, for a sleeping-bag for
my Alice-doll! I couldn't find anything else that fitted her," confessed
the smallest Corner House girl.
"Well! of all the children!" cried Agnes, having taken her hands down
from her ears to hear this.
"You shouldn't have taken the bag without permission," Ruth gravely