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The final book in the series based on stories from one of the world's favorite authors—L. M. Montgomery—for ages 10-12
The four cousins decide to have a preaching contest using the old Pulpit Stone in the orchard. As the sermons are discussed and judged, some very important truths are brought up and considered. Summer is winding down and the Toronto boys dread leaving the farm. The book and series conclude with the opening of the mysterious ...
The final book in the series based on stories from one of the world's favorite authors—L. M. Montgomery—for ages 10-12
The four cousins decide to have a preaching contest using the old Pulpit Stone in the orchard. As the sermons are discussed and judged, some very important truths are brought up and considered. Summer is winding down and the Toronto boys dread leaving the farm. The book and series conclude with the opening of the mysterious blue chest and talk of hope for spring to come.
As their summer on Prince Edward Island comes to a close, brothers Beverly and Felix join their King cousins in a preaching contest at the old Pulpit Stone in the orchard, and hear more entrancing tales from the Story Girl.
For a week we ate unlawful bedtime snacks and dreamed dreams as wild as we wanted. Our digestions went out of order and our tempers too. The Story Girl and I had a fight- something the had never happened before.
The glorious summer on Prince Edward Island was drawing to a close. All of us King cousins-particularly my brother, Felix, and I-were sad to see it ending. Soon Felix and I would have to go back to Toronto to rejoin our father. We could hardly bear the thought of leaving our cousins and the Island that we had come to love. In the last few days, all of us cousins were writing our dreams down for a fun memory of the summer and fall spent there together.
One evening Peter, Dan, and I were on our way to the King orchard with our dream books tucked under our arms. As we walked along, Peter told us that he needed our advice. Knowing that all of our girl cousins were waiting for us, we went around by the way of the woods, so they wouldn't see us. They were always curious as cats whenever we had something private to talk about. When we got into the woods, Peter told us about his problem.
"Last night I dreamed I was in church," he said. "It was full of people, and I walked up the aisle to the King pew and sat down. Then I realized that I hadn't a stitch of clothes on. Not one blessed stitch! Now," Peter dropped his voice, "what is bothering me is this: Would it be proper to tell a dream like that in front of the girls? I know we all agreed to tell each other our dreams, but what about this one?" he asked with a worried look.
I was of the opinion that he shouldn't tell it, but Dan said he didn't see why not. He said he'd tell it as quick as any other dream and that there was nothing bad in it.
"But the girls are your own relatives," said Peter. "They're no relation to me, and that makes a difference. Besides, they're all so ladylike. I guess I'd better not risk it. I'm pretty sure Aunt Jane wouldn't think it was proper to tell such a dream. And I don't want to offend Felic-any of them." Peter had almost said "Felicity" but caught himself just in time, as if the rest of us didn't know that he had a wild crush on her.
So Peter never told that dream, nor did he write it down. But I remember what he did write in his dream book for the date of September 15. "Last nite i dremed a drem. it wasn't a polit drem so i won't rite it down."
The girls saw his dream book, but they never tried to find out what the "drem" was. They really were decent and perfect "ladies" in the truest sense of the word. Although they were full of fun and mischief, no vulgar word was ever uttered by any of them or us boys in front of them. If we had been guilty of filthy talk, Cecily's face would have turned blood red, Felicity's sharp tongue would have lashed strong enough to shrivel us.
I remember one time Dan swore. Uncle Alec whipped him for it-the only time he ever punished any of his children that way. Dan was filled with sorrow and repented quickly, because Cecily cried all night over his sin. The next day, he promised her that he would never swear again, and he kept his word.
About that time, the Story Girl and Peter began to dream dreams that were far more exciting than any of ours. Their dreams were so colorful that it was hard for the rest of us to believe they weren't making them up. But the Story Girl was a soul of honor. And Peter, early in life, had his feet set in the path of truthfulness by his Aunt Jane. Neither of them had ever been known to lie.
When they assured us seriously that their dreams happened exactly as they described them, what else could we believe? But we felt sure there had to be something going on-some reason for their exciting dreams. For two weeks they dreamed the most fantastic dreams. We were amazed and curious. What was their dream secret? There was no finding out from the Story Girl. She kept secrets better than anyone. We didn't dare tease her about it, because the whole two weeks she claimed she wasn't feeling well.
We overheard Aunt Olivia and Aunt Janet talking about it.
"I don't know what's wrong with the child," said Aunt Olivia. "She hasn't seemed like herself the past two weeks. She complains of a headache and has no appetite. And I don't like her color. I'm about ready to take her to the doctor."
"Give her a good dose of medicinal tea first," said Aunt Janet. "I've been saved from many doctor's bills in my family by using medicinal tea." But the medicinal tea made no difference. The Story Girl kept on dreaming and so did Peter.
"If we can't figure out what's making the two of them dream such exciting dreams, none of us has a chance of winning the dream contest."
Finally Felicity solved the mystery for us. She threatened never to speak to Peter again if he didn't tell her their "dream" secret. She promised him that if he told her why their dreams were so colorful, she would let him walk beside her to Sunday school all the rest of the summer, and he could carry her books. Peter couldn't resist telling her that he and the Story Girl had been dreaming wild dreams because they had been eating rich, indigestible things just before bed. During the day, Sara Stanley would smuggle tidbits from the pantry for herself and Peter. They would save them to eat just before bed. The result was wild dreams. It also accounted for the Story Girl's sickness.
After the secret was out, the Story Girl was very frank about it all. "I knew Felicity would get it out of Peter sometime. Last night I ate a piece of mincemeat pie, a lot of pickles, and two grape jelly tarts. I guess I overdid it because I got real sick and couldn't sleep at all. So, of course I didn't have any dreams. I guess I should have stopped with the pie and pickles.
"Peter only had pie and pickles, and he had an elegant dream. He dreamed the old woman, Peg Bowen, caught him and put him to boil alive in that big black pot that hangs outside her door. He woke up before the water got hot though.
"Well, Miss Felicity, now you'll have to follow through with your promise to Peter," said the Story Girl. "How will you like it, walking to Sunday school with a hired boy in his patched trousers?"
"I won't have to," said Felicity happily. "Peter is having a new suit made. It's to be ready by Saturday. I knew that before I promised."
The Story Girl turned away from her in disgust. Felicity was just being Felicity, but the Story Girl despised it when she talked about Peter like he was second-class. Felicity held this opinion because he was Uncle Roger's hired boy. Sometimes she was so snobby we could hardly stand her.
Now that we knew how to produce exciting dreams, we all followed the example of Peter and the Story Girl.
"There is no chance for me to have any horrid dreams," said Sara Ray sadly. "Ma won't let me have anything at all to eat before I go to bed. I don't think it's fair."
"Can't you hide something away through the day as we do?" asked Felicity.
"No, Ma always keeps the pantry locked, so the hired girl won't steal from us."
For a week we ate unlawful bedtime snacks and dreamed dreams as wild as we wanted. Our digestions went out of order and our tempers too. The Story Girl and I had a fight-something that had never happened before. Only Peter was his same old self. Nothing could upset his stomach.
One night the grown-ups were away for the evening. They were attending a lecture at Markdale, so we ate our snacks openly, without anyone stopping us. Cecily came into the pantry with a large cucumber. She ate the whole thing. I remember eating a solid hunk of pork fat and a slab of cold plum pudding.
"I thought you didn't like cucumbers, Cecily," Dan remarked.
"I don't," answered Cecily, making a face. "But Peter says they're splendid for dreaming. He ate one that night he had the dream about being caught by cannibals. I'd eat three cucumbers if I could dream a dream like that."
We had just finished our snacks when we heard the wheels of Uncle Alec's buggy coming over the bridge in the hollow. Felicity quickly put all the evidence away, and we were in our beds when they came in. Soon the house was dark and silent. I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a commotion in the girls' room across the hall.
Through our open door, I saw a white-clad figure flit down the hall to Aunt Janet's room. From the girls' room came moans and cries.
"Cecily's sick," said Dan, springing out of bed. "That cucumber must have disagreed with her."
In a few minutes, the whole household was awake. Cecily was very, very sick. Much sicker than Dan had been when he had eaten the bad berries. Uncle Alec went for the doctor. Aunt Janet tried every home remedy she could think of, but nothing stopped the awful pain and cramping. Felicity told Aunt Janet about the cucumber, but Aunt Janet didn't think it could have made her so sick.
"But she ate a really big one, Mother," said Felicity, wringing her hands as Cecily moaned and tossed like she might die.
"What on earth for?" asked Aunt Janet. "I didn't think she even liked them."
"She doesn't," said Felicity. "It was that wretched Peter. He told her it would make her dream better."
"Dream? Why did she want to dream?" questioned our aunt, who was terribly upset.
"Oh, to have something worthwhile to write in her dream book. We all have dream books, you know, and we've been eating rich things to make us dream. But if Cecily ... oh, I'll never forgive myself," she sobbed.
Just then the doctor came, but he couldn't seem to help Cecily. Like Aunt Janet, he declared that cucumbers couldn't make her so ill. Then he found out that she had drunk a glass of milk too. Then the mystery was solved.
"We're not sure, but we think milk and cucumber eaten together make a bad poison," he said. "No wonder the child is sick. It won't kill her, but she'll be pretty miserable for two or three days."
She was miserable. And we were too. Aunt Janet investigated the whole affair, and the matter of our dream books was discussed in a family meeting. I don't know which hurt our feelings more, the scolding we got from Aunt Janet or the ridicule and teasing Uncle Roger gave us. Peter got it worse than any of us.
"I didn't tell Cecily to drink the milk, and the cucumber alone wouldn't have hurt her," he grumbled. Cecily was able to be up by then, so Peter thought it was alright to grumble a bit. "Besides, she begged me to tell her what would be good for dreams. I just told her as a favor. And now your aunt Janet blames me for it all."
"And Aunt Janet says that after this we are never to have anything to eat before we go to bed except plain bread and milk," said Felix sadly.
"They'd like to stop us from dreaming altogether," said the Story Girl.
"We needn't worry about the bread-and-milk rule," added Felicity. "Ma made a rule like that once before and kept it for a week. Then we just slipped back into the old way. That will happen this time too. But of course we won't be able to get any more rich foods before bed, and our dreams will be pretty boring after this."
"Well, let's go down to the Pulpit Stone, and I'll tell you a story I know," said the Story Girl.
We went-and in a short time we were laughing. We had already forgotten the wrongs of our cruel grown-ups.
Soon we heard the grown-ups come into the orchard. They were all laughing as they joined our circle. They sometimes did this when they finished their work. We liked our grown-ups the best at those times, for then they seemed like children again.
Uncle Roger and Uncle Alec lolled in the grass like boys. Aunt Olivia looked like a pretty flower in her prettiest print dress-a delightful pale purple. She had a knot of yellow ribbon at her throat and sat with her arm about Cecily, as she smiled sweetly at the rest of us. Even Aunt Janet's motherly face lost its everyday look of anxious care.
The Story Girl was in high spirits that night. Her stories had never sparkled with such wit and fun.
"Sara Stanley," said Aunt Olivia, shaking her finger at her after she told a funny story, "you'll be famous someday."
As we left the orchard, I walked along behind Uncle Roger and Aunt Olivia.
"That girl has a lot of talent," said Uncle Roger.
"I know, Roger," answered Aunt Olivia. "I wonder what is in store for her?"
"Fame," he responded. "If she ever has a chance, that is. I suppose her father will see to that. At least I hope he will. You and I never had our chance, Olivia. I hope Sara will have hers."
That was the first time I began to understand that Uncle Roger and Aunt Olivia had both cherished dreams and ambitions in their youth, but those dreams had never been fulfilled.
"Someday, Olivia," Uncle Roger went on, "you and I may find that we are the aunt and uncle of a great actress. If a girl of fourteen can make her family believe for ten minutes that she is a snake, what will she be able to do when she's thirty!"
When he realized I was behind him, he dismissed me, saying, "Run along to bed, Bev, and don't be eating any cucumbers before you go."
Grown-ups are like elephants. They never forget.
We had been pretty brave until then, but our strained nerves gave way to sheer panic. Peter gave a little yelp of pure terror. We turned and ran across the clearing and into the woods.
All of us King cousins were down in the dumps, and even the grown-ups took an interest in our trouble. The Story Girl's cat, Paddy, our own dear precious Pat, as we sometimes called him, was sick-very, very sick.
On Friday, he moped and refused his saucer of new milk at milking time. The next morning, he stretched himself on the platform outside Uncle Roger's back door, laid his head on his black paws, and refused to take any notice of anything or anybody. Only when the Story Girl stroked him did he give one sad little mew, as if to ask why we didn't do something to help him.
At that Cecily and Felicity and Sara Ray all began crying, and we boys felt choked up. I caught Peter behind Aunt Olivia's dairy later in the day. If ever a boy had been crying, it was Peter. He didn't deny it either, but he wouldn't own up to it that he was crying about Paddy. "Nonsense!" he answered.
"What were you crying for then?" I asked.
"I'm crying because ... because my Aunt Jane is dead," he said defiantly.
"But your Aunt Jane died two years ago," I said skeptically.
"Well, I've had to do without her for two years now, and that's worse than if it had just happened."
"I believe you were crying because Pat is so sick," I said firmly.
Excerpted from Dreams, Schemes, and Mysteries by L. M. Montgomery Barbara Davoll Copyright © 2004 by The Zondervan Corporation, David Macdonald, trustee and Ruth Macdonald . Excerpted by permission.
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