The Dandelion Cottage - by Carrol Watson Rankin

dandelions in a field in front olf old cottage


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CHAPTER 1 - Mr. Black's Terms
The little square cottage was unoccupied. It had stood for many years on the parish property, having indeed been built long before the parish bought the land for church purposes. It was easy to see how Dandelion Cottage came by its name at first, for growing all about it were great, fluffy, golden dandelions; but afterwards there was another good reason why the name was appropriate, as you will discover shortly.
[Continue Reading - Chapter One]

CHAPTER 2 - Paying The Rent
"This is a whopping big yard," said Mabel, looking disconsolately at two dandelions and one burdock in the bottom of a bushel basket. "There doesn't seem to be any place to begin."

"I'm going to weed out a place big enough to sit in," announced Bettie. "Then I'll make it bigger and bigger all around me in every direction until it joins the clearing next to mine."

"I'm a soldier," said Marjory, brandishing a trowel, "vanquishing my enemies. You know in books the hero always battles single-handed with about a million foes and always kills them all and everybody lives happy ever after—zip! There goes one!"
[Continue Reading - Chapter Two]

CHAPTER 3 - The Tenants Take Posession
"Our own house—think of it!" cried Bettie, turning the key. "Push, somebody; the door sticks. There! It's open."

"Ugh!" said Mabel, drawing back hastily. "It's awfully dark and stuffy in there. I guess I won't go in just yet—it smells so dead-ratty."

"It's been shut up so long," explained Jean. "Wait. I'll pull some of the vines back from this window. There! Can you see better?"
[Continue Reading - Chapter Three]

CHAPTER 4 - Furnishing The Cottage
That afternoon the four girls realized for the first time that Dandelion Cottage was provided with a doorbell. In response to its lively jingling, Mabel dropped the potato she was peeling with neatness but hardly with dispatch, and hurried to the door.

"Is your moth—Is the lady of the house at home?" asked Mrs. Crane.

"Yes'm, all of us are—there's four," stammered Mabel, who wasn't quite sure of her ability to entertain a grown-up caller. "Please walk in. Oh! don't sit down in that one, please! There's only two legs on that chair, and it always goes down flat."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Four]

CHAPTER 4 - Furnishing The Cottage
Grass was beginning to grow on the tiny lawn, all sorts of thrifty young seedlings were popping up in the flower beds, and Jean's pansies were actually beginning to blossom. The girls had trained the rampant Virginia creeper away from the windows and had coaxed it to climb the porch pillars. From the outside, no one would have suspected that Dandelion Cottage was not occupied by a regular grown-up family.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Four]

CHAPTER 5 - Poverty In The Cottage
"There's no use talking," said Jean, one day, as the girls sat at their dining-room table eating very smoky toast and drinking the weakest of cocoa, "we'll have to get some provisions of our own before long if we're going to invite Mr. Black to dinner as we promised. The cupboard's perfectly empty and Bridget says I can't take another scrap of bread or one more potato out of the house this week."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Five]

CHAPTER 6 - A Lodger to the Rescue
Grass was beginning to grow on the tiny lawn, all sorts of thrifty young seedlings were popping up in the flower beds, and Jean's pansies were actually beginning to blossom. The girls had trained the rampant Virginia creeper away from the windows and had coaxed it to climb the porch pillars. From the outside, no one would have suspected that Dandelion[52] Cottage was not occupied by a regular grown-up family.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Six]

CHAPTER 7 - The Girls Disclose a Plan
Before the week was over, the girls had discovered that their new friend was in every way a most delightful person. She proved surprisingly skillful with hammer and nails, and besides mending the bed she soon had several of the chairs quite firm on their legs.

"Why," cried Bettie one day as she delightedly inspected an old black walnut rocker that had always collapsed at the slightest touch, "this old chair is almost strong enough to walk! I'm so glad you've made so many of them safe, because, when Mrs. Bartholomew Crane comes to see us, she's always afraid to sit down. She's such a nice neighbor that we'd like to make her comfortable."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Seven]

CHAPTER 7 - The Girls Disclose a Plan
Before the week was over, the girls had discovered that their new friend was in every way a most delightful person. She proved surprisingly skillful with hammer and nails, and besides mending the bed she soon had several of the chairs quite firm on their legs.

"Why," cried Bettie one day as she delightedly inspected an old black walnut rocker that had always collapsed at the slightest touch, "this old chair is almost strong enough to walk! I'm so glad you've made so many of them safe, because, when Mrs. Bartholomew Crane comes to see us, she's always afraid to sit down. She's such a nice neighbor that we'd like to make her comfortable."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Seven]

CHAPTER 8 - An Unexpected Crop of Dandelions
"Dandelion blossoms in yellow, with such lovely soft green leaves," said Bettie, "and such a lovely, light, creamy background. Oh! what's that?"

"That's the border," replied Miss Blossom. "See how graceful the pattern is, and how saucily those dandelions hold their heads. Show them the ceiling paper, Father."

"Oh!" cried Mabel, "just picked-off dandelions scattered all over an ocean of milk—how pretty!"

"We'll have the Village Improvement Society after us," laughed Marjory. "They don't allow a dandelion to show its head."

"I love dandelions," said Miss Blossom; "real ones, I mean; they're such gay, cheerful things and such a beautiful color."

"I love them, too," said Jean, "because, you know, they paid our rent for us."

"But," said Mabel, "I'm thankful we haven't got to dig all these dandelions."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Eight]

CHAPTER 9 - Changes and Plans
When the little dining-room was finished it was quite the prettiest room in the house, for the friendly Blossoms had painted the battered woodwork a delicate green to match the leaves in the paper; and by mixing what was left of the green paint with the remaining color left from the sideboard, clever Miss Blossom obtained a shade that was exactly right for as much of the floor as the rug did not cover. Of course all the neighbors and all the girls' relatives had to come in afterwards to see what Bettie called "the very dandelioniest room in Dandelion Cottage."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Nine]

CHAPTER 10 - The Milligans
A day or two later, the girls of Dandelion Cottage were invited to a party in another portion of the town. The invitations were left at their own cottage door and the delighted girls began at once to make plans for the party.

"Let's carry our new handkerchiefs," suggested Jean, going to her treasure box. "I believe I'll take mine home with me—I dreamed last night that the cottage was on fire and that mine got burned. Besides, I'll have to get dressed at home for the party and it would be handier to have it there."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Ten]

CHAPTER 11 - An Embarrassing Visitor
For the next few days, Laura remained contented with doing on the sly whatever she could to annoy the girls. One evening, when the girls had gone home for the night and while her mother was away from home, Laura threw a brick at one of the cottage windows, breaking a pane of glass. Reaching in through the hole, she scattered handfuls of sand on the clean floor that the girls had scrubbed that morning. Another night she emptied a basketful of potato parings on their neat front porch and daubed molasses on their doorknob—mean little tricks prompted by a mean little nature.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Eleven]

CHAPTER 12 - A Lively Afternoon
It happened one day that Mrs. Milligan was obliged to spend a long afternoon at the dentist's, leaving Laura in charge of the house. Unfortunately it happened, too, that this was the day when the sewing society met, and Mrs. Tucker had asked Bettie to stay home for the afternoon because the next-to-the-youngest baby was ill with a croupy cold and could not go out of doors to the cottage. Devoted Jean offered to stay with her beloved Bettie, who gladly accepted the offer. Before going to Bettie's, however, Jean ran over to Dandelion Cottage to tell the other girls about it.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Twelve]

CHAPTER 13 - The Junior Warden
When the doorbell rang suddenly and sharply, Marjory's tune stopped short, high in air, and Mabel ran to the window.

"It's a man," announced Mabel.

"Mr. Milligan?" asked Marjory, anxiously.

"He's moved so I can't tell."

"Try the other window," urged Marjory, impatiently.

"It doesn't look like Mr. Milligan's legs—I can't see the rest of him. They look neat and—and expensive."
[Continue Reading - Chapter Thirteen]

CHAPTER 14 - An Unexpected Letter
The next morning, Jean, with three large bananas as a peace offering, was the first to arrive at Dandelion Cottage. Jean, a wise young person for her years, had decided that a little hard work would clear the atmosphere, so, finding no one else in the house, she made a fire in the stove, put on the kettle, put up the leaf of the kitchen table, and began to take all the dishes from the pantry shelves.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Fourteen]

CHAPTER 15 - An Obdurate Landlord
The unhappy girls could not trust themselves to talk as they hastened homeward. They held hands tightly, walking four abreast along the quiet street, and barely managed to keep the tears back and the rapidly swelling lumps in their little throats successfully swallowed until Jean's trembling fingers had unlocked the cottage door.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Fifteen]

CHAPTER 16 - Mabel Plans a Surprise
In the morning, the girls returned for a last look, and for the remaining curtains. Dandelion Cottage, stripped of its furniture and without its pictures, showed its age and all its infirmities. Great patches of plaster and wall paper were missing, for the gay posters had covered a multitude of defects.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Sixteen]

CHAPTER 17 - Several Surprises Take Effect
Mr. Black opened the door of his hotel apartment in Washington one sultry noon in response to a vigorous, prolonged rapping from without. The bellboy handed him a telegram. When Mr. Black had read the long message he smiled and frowned, but cheerfully paid the three dollars and forty-one cents additional charges that the messenger demanded.
<.br< It was Mabel's message; the clerk had transmitted it faithfully, even to the two misspelled words that had proved too much for the excited little writer. If the receiving clerk had not considerately tucked in a few periods for the sake of clearness, there would have been no punctuation marks, because, as everybody knows, very few telegrams are punctuated; but Mabel, of course, had not taken that into consideration. It was quite the longest message and certainly the most amusing one that Mr. Black had ever received. It read.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Seventeen]

CHAPTER 18 - A Hurried Retreat
The girls, of course, had been barred out while all these exciting latest events were taking place in their dear cottage; but Marjory, who lived next door to it, had seen something of the Milligans' hasty exit and had guessed at part of the truth. Mrs. Knapp, who seemed a pleasant, likable little woman, in spite of her unwillingness to accommodate her new landlord, unknowingly confirmed their suspicions when she told her friend Mrs. Crane about it; for Mrs. Crane, in her turn, told the news to the four little housekeepers the next morning as they sat homeless and forlorn on her doorstep. It was always Mrs. Crane to whom the Dandelion Cottagers turned whenever they were in need of consolation and, as in this case, consolation was usually forthcoming.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Eighteen]

CHAPTER 19 - The Response to Mabel's Telegram
Mr. Black took a short cut through the hole in the back fence, arriving on the cottage lawn just in time to meet a procession of girls entering the front gate. Each girl was carrying a huge, heavy clod of earth, out of the top of which grew a sturdy green plant; for the cottageless cottagers had discovered the only successful way of performing the difficult feat of restocking their garden with half-grown vegetables. Their neighbors had proved generous when Bettie had explained that if one could only dig deep enough one could transplant anything, from a cabbage to pole-beans.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Nineteen]

CHAPTER 20 - The Odd Behavior of the Grown-ups
Of course the cottage was the busiest place imaginable during the days immediately preceding the dinner party. The girls had made elaborate plans and their pockets fairly bulged with lists of things that they were to be sure to remember and not on any account to forget. Then the time came for them to begin to do all the things that they had planned to do, and the cottage hummed like a hive of bees.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Twenty]

CHAPTER 21 - The Dinner
At last, everything was either cooked or cooking. The table was beautifully set and decorated and flowers bloomed everywhere in Dandelion Cottage. Jean and Bettie, in the freshest of gingham aprons, were taking turns watching the things simmering on the stove. Mabel, looking fatter than ever in her short, white, stiffly starched apron, was on the doorstep craning her neck to see if the guests showed any signs of coming, and Marjory was busily putting a few entirely unnecessary finishing touches to the table.
[Continue Reading - Chapter Twenty-One]

Dandelion Cottage Book Cover Title: Dandelion Cottage
Author: Carroll Watson Rankin
Illustrator: Mary Stevens

First published in 1904
The Marquette County Historical Society
213 North Front Street
Marquette, Michigan 49855

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