GEORGINA OF THE RAINBOWS
GEORGINA OF THE RAINBOWS
ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON
AUTHOR OF TWO LITTLE KNIGHTS OF KENTUCKY THE GIANT SCISSORS
THE DESERT OF WAITING ETC.
"... _Still bear up and steer
right onward._" MILTON
My Little God-daughter
[Illustration: "At the Tip of Old Cape Cod."]
I. Her Earlier Memories
II. Georgina's Playmate Mother
III. The Towncrier Has His Say
IV. New Friends and the Green Stairs
V. In the Footsteps of Pirates
VI. Spend-the-Day Guests
VII. "The Tishbite"
VIII. The Telegram that Took Barby Away
IX. The Birthday Prism
X. Moving Pictures
XI. The Old Rifle Gives Up Its Secret
XII. A Hard Promise
XIII. Lost and Found at the Liniment Wagon
XIV. Buried Treasure
XV. A Narrow Escape
XVI. What the Storm Did
XVII. In the Keeping of the Dunes
XVIII. Found Out
XIX. Tracing the Liniment Wagon
XX. Dance of the Rainbow Fairies
XXI. On the Trail of the Wild-Cat Woman
XXII. The Rainbow Game
XXIII. Light Dawns for Uncle Darcy
XXIV. A Contrast in Fathers
XXV. A Letter to Hong-Kong
XXVI. Peggy Joins the Rainbow-Makers
XXVII. A Modern "St. George and the Dragon"
XXVIII. The Doctor's Discovery
XXIX. While They Waited
XXX. Nearing the End
XXXI. Comings and Goings
[Illustration: "As Long as a Man Keeps Hope at the Prow He Keeps Afloat."]
[Illustration: "Put a Rainbow 'Round Your Troubles."--Georgina.]
Her Earlier Memories
If old Jeremy Clapp had not sneezed his teeth into the fire that winter
day this story might have had a more seemly beginning; but being a true
record it must start with that sneeze because it was the first
happening in Georgina Huntingdon's life which she could remember
She was in her high-chair by a window overlooking a gray sea and with a
bib under her chin was being fed dripping spoonfuls of bread and milk
from the silver porringer which rested on the sill. The bowl was almost
on a level with her little blue shoes which she kept kicking up and down
on the step of her high-chair wherefore the restraining hand which
seized her ankles at intervals. It was Mrs. Triplett's firm hand which
clutched her and Mrs. Triplett's firm hand which fed her so there was
not the usual dilly-dallying over Georgina's breakfast as when her mother
held the spoon. She always made a game of it chanting nursery rhymes in
a gay silver-bell-cockle-shell sort of way as if she were one of the
"pretty maids all in a row" just stepped out of a picture book.
Mrs. Triplett was an elderly widow a distant relative of the family who
lived with them. "Tippy" the child called her before she could speak
plainly--a foolish name for such a severe and dignified person but Mrs.
Triplett rather seemed to like it. Being the working housekeeper
companion and everything else which occasion required she had no time to
make a game of Georgina's breakfast even if she had known how. Not once
did she stop to say "Curly-locks Curly-locks wilt thou be mine?" or to
press her face suddenly against Georgina's dimpled rose-leaf cheek as if
it were somthing too temptingly dear and sweet to be resisted. She merely
said "Here!" each time she thrust the spoon towards her.
Mrs. Triplett was in an especial hurry this morning and did not even
look up when old Jeremy came into the room to put more wood on the fire.
In winter when there was no garden work Jeremy did everything about the
house which required a man's hand. Although he must have been nearly
eighty years old he came in tall and unbending with a big log across
his shoulder. He walked stiffly but his back was as straight as the long
poker with which he mended the fire.
Georgina had seen him coming and going about the place every day since
she had been brought to live in this old gray house beside the sea but
this was the first time he had made any lasting impression upon her
memory. Henceforth she was to carry with her as long as she should live
the picture of a hale red-faced old man with a woolen muffler wound
around his lean throat. His knitted "wrist-warmers" slipped down over his
mottled deeply-veined bands when he stooped to roll the log into the
fire. He let go with a grunt. The next instant a mighty sneeze seized
him and Georgina who had been gazing in fascination at the shower of
sparks he was making saw all of his teeth go flying into the fire. If
his eyes had suddenly dropped from their sockets upon the hearth or his
ears floated off from the sides of his head she could not have been more
terrified for she had not yet learned that one's teeth may be a separate
part of one's anatomy. It was such a terrible thing to see a man go to
pieces in this undreamed-of fashion that she began to scream and writhe
around in her high-chair until it nearly turned over.
She did upset the silver porringer and what was left of the bread and
milk splashed out on the floor barely missing the rug. Mrs. Triplett
sprang to snatch her from the toppling chair thinking the child was
having a spasm. She did not connect it with old Jeremy's sneeze until she
heard his wrathful gibbering and turned to see him holding up the teeth
which he had fished out of the fire with the tongs.
They were an old-fashioned set such as one never sees now. They had been
made in England. They were hinged together like jaws and Georgina yelled
again as she saw them all blackened and gaping dangling from the tongs.
It was not the grinning teeth themselves however which frightened her.
It was the awful knowledge vague though it was to her infant mind that
a human body could fly apart in that way. And Tippy not understanding
the cause of her terror never thought to explain that they were false
and had been made by a man in some out-of-the-way corner of Yorkshire
instead of by the Almighty and that their removal was painless.
It was several years before Georgina learned the truth and the
impression made by the accident grew into a lurking fear which often
haunted her as time wore on. She never knew at what moment she might fly
apart herself. That it was a distressing experience she knew from the
look on old Jeremy's face and the desperate pace at which he set off to
have himself mended.
She held her breath long enough to hear the door bang shut after him and
his hob-nailed shoes go scrunch scrunch through the gravel of the path
around the house then she broke out crying again so violently that Tippy
had hard work quieting her. She picked up the silver porringer from the
floor and told her to look at the pretty bowl. The fall had put a dent
into its side. And what would Georgina's great-great aunt have said could
she have known what was going to happen to her handsome dish poor lady!
Surely she never would have left it to such a naughty namesake! Then to
stop her sobbing Mrs. Triplett took one tiny finger-tip in her large
ones and traced the name which was engraved around the rim in tall
slim-looped letters: the name which had passed down through many
christenings to its present owner "Georgina Huntingdon."
Failing thus to pacify the frightened child Mrs. Triplett held her up to
the window overlooking the harbor and dramatically bade her "hark!"
Standing with her blue shoes on the window-sill and a tear on each pink
cheek Georgina flattened her nose against the glass and obediently
The main street of the ancient seaport town upon which she gazed
expectantly curved three miles around the harbor and the narrow board-
walk which ran along one side of it all the way ended abruptly just in
front of the house in a waste of sand. So there was nothing to be seen
but a fishing boat at anchor and the waves crawling up the beach and
nothing to be heard but the jangle of a bell somewhere down the street.
The sobs broke out again. "Hush!" commanded Mrs. Triplett giving her an
impatient shake. "Hark to what's coming up along. Can't you stop a minute
and give the Towncrier a chance? Or is it you're trying to outdo him?"
The word "Towncrier" was meaningless to Georgina. There was nothing by
that name in her linen book which held the pictures of all the animals
from Ape to Zebra and there was nothing by that name down in Kentucky
where she had lived all of her short life until these last few weeks. She
did not even know whether what Mrs. Triplett said was coming along would
be wearing a hat or horns. The cow that lowed at the pasture bars every
night back in Kentucky jangled a bell. Georgina had no distinct
recollection of the cow but because of it the sound of a bell was
associated in her mind with horns. So horns were what she halfway
expected to see as she watched breathlessly with her face against the
"Hark to what he's calling!" urged Mrs. Triplett. "A fish auction.
There's a big boat in this morning with a load of fish and the Towncrier
is telling everybody about it."
So a Towncrier was a man! The next instant Georgina saw him. He was an
old man with bent shoulders and a fringe of gray hair showing under the
fur cap pulled down to meet his ears. But there was such a happy twinkle
in his faded blue eyes such goodness of heart in every wrinkle of the
weather-beaten old face that even the grumpiest people smiled a little
when they met him and everybody he spoke to stepped along a bit more
cheerful just because the hearty way he said "_Good_ morning!" made
the day seem really good.
"He's cold" said Tippy. "Let's tap on the window and beckon him to come
in and warm himself before he starts back to town."
She caught up Georgina's hand to make it do the tapping thinking it
would please her to give her a share in the invitation but in her touchy
frame of mind it was only an added grievance to have her knuckles knocked
against the pane and her wails began afresh as the old man answering
the signal shook his bell at her playfully and turned towards the
As to what happened after that Georgina's memory is a blank save for a
confused recollection of being galloped to Banbury Cross on somebody's
knee while a big hand helped her to clang the clapper of a bell far too
heavy for her to swing alone. But some dim picture of the kindly face
puckered into smiles for her comforting stayed on in her mind as an
object seen through a fog and thereafter she never saw the Towncrier go
kling-klanging along the street without feeling a return of that same
sense of safety which his song gave her that morning. Somehow it
restored her confidence in all Creation which Jeremy's teeth had
shattered in their fall.
Taking advantage of Georgina's contentment at being settled on the
visitor's knee Mrs. Triplett hurried for a cloth to wipe up the bread
and milk. Kneeling on the floor beside it she sopped it up so
energetically that what she was saying came in jerks.
"It's a mercy you happened along Mr. Darcy or she might have been
screaming yet. I never saw a child go into such a sudden tantrum."
The answer came in jerks also for it took a vigorous trotting of the
knees to keep such a heavy child as Georgina on the bounce. And in order
that his words might not interfere with the game he sang them to the tune
of "Ride a Cock Horse."
"There must have been--some--very good----
Reason for such--a hulla-ba-loo!"
"I'll tell you when I come back" said Mrs. Triplett on her feet again
by this time and halfway to the kitchen with the dripping floor cloth.
But when she reappeared in the doorway her own concerns had crowded out
the thought of old Jeremy's misfortune.
"My yeast is running all over the top of the crock Mr. Darcy and if I
don't get it mixed right away the whole baking will be spoiled."
"That's all right ma'am" was the answer. "Go ahead with your dough.
I'll keep the little lass out of mischief. Many's the time I have sat by
this fire with her father on my knee as you know. But it's been years
since I was in this room last."
There was a long pause in the Banbury Cross ride. The Crier was looking
around the room from one familiar object to another with the gentle
wistfulness which creeps into old eyes when they peer into the past for
something that has ceased to be. Georgina grew impatient.
"More ride!" she commanded waving her hands and clucking her tongue as
he had just taught her to do.
"Don't let her worry you Mr. Darcy" called Mrs. Triplett from the
kitchen. "Her mother will be back from the post-office most any minute
now. Just send her out here to me if she gets too bothersome."
Instantly Georgina cuddled her head down against his shoulder. She had no
mind to be separated from this new-found playfellow. When he produced a
battered silver watch from the pocket of his velveteen waistcoat holding
it over her ear she was charmed into a prolonged silence. The clack of
Tippy's spoon against the crock came in from the kitchen and now and
then the fire snapped or the green fore-log made a sing-song hissing.
More than thirty years had passed by since the old Towncrier first
visited the Huntingdon home. He was not the Towncrier then but a
seafaring man who had sailed many times around the globe and had his
fill of adventure. Tired at last of such a roving life he had found
anchorage to his liking in this quaint old fishing town at the tip end of
Cape Cod. Georgina's grandfather George Justin Huntingdon a judge and a
writer of dry law books had been one of the first to open his home to
him. They had been great friends and little Justin now Georgina's
father had been a still closer friend. Many a day they had spent
together these two fishing or blueberrying or tramping across the
dunes. The boy called him "Uncle Darcy" tagging after him like a shadow
and feeling a kinship in their mutual love of adventure which drew as
strongly as family ties. The Judge always said that it was the old
sailor's yarns of sea life which sent Justin into the navy "instead of
the law office where he belonged."
As the old man looked down at Georgina's soft brown curls pressed
against his shoulder and felt her little dimpled hand lying warm on his
neck he could almost believe it was the same child who had crept into
his heart thirty years ago. It was hard to think of the little lad as
grown or as filling the responsible position of a naval surgeon. Yet
when he counted back he realized that the Judge had been dead several
years and the house had been standing empty all that time. Justin had
never been back since it was boarded up. He had written occasionally
during the first of his absence but only boyish scrawls which told
little about himself.
The only real news which the old man had of him was in the three
clippings from the Provincetown _Beacon_ which he carried about in
his wallet. The first was a mention of Justin's excellent record in
fighting a fever epidemic in some naval station in the tropics. The next
was the notice of his marriage to a Kentucky girl by the name of Barbara
Shirley and the last was a paragraph clipped from a newspaper dated only
a few weeks back. It said that Mrs. Justin Huntingdon and little
daughter Georgina would arrive soon to take possession of the old
Huntingdon homestead which had been closed for many years. During the
absence of her husband serving in foreign parts she would have with her
Mrs. Maria Triplett.
The Towncrier had known Mrs. Triplett as long as he had known the town.
She had been kind to him when he and his wife were in great trouble. He
was thinking about that time now because it had something to do with his
last visit to the Judge in this very room. She had happened to be
present too. And the green fore-log had made that same sing-song
hissing. The sound carried his thoughts back so far that for a few
moments he ceased to hear the clack of the spoon.
Georgina's Playmate Mother
As the Towncrier's revery brought him around to Mrs. Triplett's part in
the painful scene which he was recalling he heard her voice and looking
up saw that she had come back into the room and was standing by the
"There's Justin's wife now Mr. Darcy coming up the beach. Poor child
she didn't get her letter. I can tell she's disappointed from the way she
walks along as if she could hardly push against the wind."
The old man leaning sideways over the arm of his chair craned his neck
toward the window to peer out but he did it without dislodging Georgina
who was repeating the "tick-tick" of the watch in a whisper as she lay
contentedly against the Towncrier's shoulder.
"She's naught but a slip of a girl" he commented referring to
Georgina's mother slowly drawing into closer view. "She must be years
younger than Justin. She came up to me in the post-office last week and
told me who she was and I've been intending ever since to get up this
far to talk with her about him."
As they watched her she reached the end of the board-walk and plunging
ankle-deep into the sand trudged slowly along as if pushed back by the
wind. It whipped her skirts about her and blew the ends of her fringed
scarf back over her shoulder. She made a bright flash of color against
the desolate background. Scarf cap and thick knitted reefer were all of
a warm rose shade. Once she stopped and with hands thrust into her
reefer pockets stood looking off towards the lighthouse on Long Point.
Mrs. Triplett spoke again still watching her.
"I didn't want to take Justin's offer when he first wrote to me although
the salary he named was a good one and I knew the work wouldn't be more
than I've always been used to. But I had planned to stay in Wellfleet
this winter and it always goes against the grain with me to have to
change a plan once made. I only promised to stay until she was
comfortably settled. A Portugese woman on one of the back streets would
have come and cooked for her. But land! When I saw how strange and
lonesome she seemed and how she turned to me for everything I didn't
have the heart to say go. I only named it once to her and she sort of
choked up and winked back the tears and said in that soft-spoken
Southern way of hers 'Oh don't leave me Tippy!' She's taken to calling
me Tippy just as Georgina does. 'When you talk about it I feel like a
kitten shipwrecked on a desert island. It's all so strange and dreadful
here with just sea on one side and sand dunes on the other.'"
At the sound of her name Georgina suddenly sat up straight and began
fumbling the watch back into the velveteen pocket. She felt that it was
time for her to come into the foreground again.
"More ride!" she demanded. The galloping began again gently at first
then faster and faster in obedience to her wishes until she seemed only
a swirl of white dress and blue ribbon and flying brown curls. But this
time the giddy going up and down was in tame silence. There was no
accompanying song to make the game lively. Mrs. Triplett had more to say
and Mr. Darcy was too deeply interested to sing.
"Look at her now stopping to read that sign set up on the spot where the
Pilgrims landed. She does that every time she passes it. Says it cheers
her up something wonderful no matter how downhearted she is to think
that she wasn't one of the Mayflower passengers and that she's nearly
three hundred years away from their hardships and that dreadful first
wash-day of theirs. Does seem to me though that's a poor way to make
yourself cheerful just thinking of all the hard times you might have had
"_Thing_ it!" lisped Georgina wanting undivided attention and
laying an imperious little hand on his cheek to force it. "_Thing_!"
He shook his head reprovingly with a finger across his lips to remind
her that Mrs. Triplett was still talking; but she was not to be silenced
in such a way. Leaning over until her mischievous brown eyes compelled
him to look at her she smiled like a dimpled cherub. Georgina's smile
was something irresistible when she wanted her own way.
"_Pleathe!_" she lisped her face so radiantly sure that no one
could be hardhearted enough to resist the magic appeal of that word that
he could not disappoint her.
"The little witch!" he exclaimed. "She could wheedle the fish out of the
sea if she'd say please to 'em that way. But how that honey-sweet tone
and the yells she was letting loose awhile back could come out of that
same little rose of a mouth passes my understanding."
Mrs. Triplett had left them again and he was singing at the top of his
quavering voice "Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes" when the
front door opened and Georgina's mother came in. The salt wind had blown
color into her cheeks as bright as her rose-pink reefer. Her
disappointment about the letter had left a wistful shadow in her big gray
eyes but it changed to a light of pleasure when she saw who was romping
with Georgina. They were so busy with their game that neither of them
noticed her entrance.
She closed the door softly behind her and stood with her back against it
watching them a moment. Then Georgina spied her and with a rapturous cry
of "_Barby!_" scrambled down and ran to throw herself into her
mother's arms. Barby was her way of saying Barbara. It was the first word
she had ever spoken and her proud young mother encouraged her to repeat
it even when her Grandmother Shirley insisted that it wasn't respectful
for a child to call its mother by her first name.
"But I don't care whether it is or not" Barbara had answered. "All I
want is for her to feel that we're the best chums in the world. And I'm
_not_ going to spoil her even if I am young and inexperienced. There
are a few things that I expect to be very strict about but making her
respectful to me isn't one of them."
Now one of the things which Barbara had decided to be very strict about
in Georgina's training was making her respectful to guests. She was not
to thrust herself upon their notice she was not to interrupt their
conversation or make a nuisance of herself. So young as she was