The Enchanted Barn (Chapter X, page 1 of 8)

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The crisis was precipitated by Shirley's finding her mother crying when she came up softly to see her.

"Now, little mother, _dear_! What can be the matter?" she cried aghast, sitting down on the bed and drawing her mother's head into her lap.

But it was some time before Mrs. Hollister could recover her calmness, and Shirley began to be frightened. At last, when she had kissed and petted her, she called down to the others to come up-stairs quickly.

They came with all haste, George and Harley with dish-towels over their shoulders, Carol with her arithmetic and pencil, little Doris trudging up breathless, one step at a time, and all crying excitedly, "What's the matter?"

"Why, here's our blessed little mother lying here all by herself, crying because she doesn't know where in the world we can find a house!" cried Shirley; "and I think it's time we told our beautiful secret, don't you?"

"Yes," chorused the children, although Harley and Doris had no idea until then that there was any beautiful secret. Beautiful secrets hadn't been coming their way.

"Well, I think we better tell it," said Shirley, looking at George and Carol questioningly. "Don't you? We don't want mother worrying." So they all clustered around her on the bed and the floor, and sat expectantly while Shirley told.

"You see, mother, it's this way. We've been looking around a good deal lately, George and I, and we haven't found a thing in the city that would do; so one day I took a trolley ride out of the city, and I've found something I think will do nicely for the summer, anyway, and that will give us time to look around and decide. Mother dear, would you mind camping so very much if we made you a nice, comfortable place?"

"Camping!" said Mrs. Hollister in dismay. "Dear child! In a tent?"

"No, mother, not in a tent. There's a--a--sort of a house--that is, there's a building, where we could sleep, and put our furniture, and all; but there's a lovely out-of-doors. Wouldn't you like that, for Doris and you?"

"Oh, yes," sighed the poor woman; "I'd like it; but, child, you haven't an idea what you are talking about. Any place in the country costs terribly, even a shanty----"

"That's it, mother, call it a shanty!" put in Carol. "Mother, would you object to living in a shanty all summer if it was good and clean, and you had plenty of out-of-doors around it?"

"No, of course not, Carol, if it was perfectly respectable. I shouldn't want to take my children among a lot of low-down people----"

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