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The day following this unexpected meeting of the Gleaners, the invalid spent in slumber, so exhausted was she by her efforts to get the obnoxious books completed and out of the way; but the second day she was herself again and restlessly eager for some new diversion; and here it was that Gussie came to the rescue.  It had been a hard day for them all.  Outside the rain poured down in torrents, driven by a cold, fitful wind which seemed more like the blast of winter than the herald of returning spring; and inside even the cheerful glow of the open fires could not dispel the gloom and dampness of the storm without.  It is just such a day as makes well folks cross and disgusted, and the poor, unwilling prisoner in the Flag Room upstairs felt forlorn indeed as she gazed down the deserted, flooded streets and across the soaked, sodden lawns which only yesterday had whispered of the coming of summer.

She was tired of reading,-the mere thought of it made her sick-the geographical puzzles which Allee and Cherry had laboriously cut out for her amusement quacked of school and duty; she could not play games all by herself and Grandma was too busy; dolls long since had lost their charm; it was too stormy for callers; and altogether world seemed a dull and cheerless place.  Even when the girls returned from school the atmosphere did not clear.  Peace was plainly out of sorts, and it was with a sigh of thanksgiving that the household saw the dismal day draw to a close.

The dinner-bell pealed out its summons, and half-heartedly Allee pulled out the invalid’s little table, covered it with a snowy cloth and sat down beside the bed.  It was her turn to eat dinner in the Flag Room that night.  Such occasions were usually regarded as a great privilege by this golden-haired fairy, who was a willing slave to every caprice of the brown-haired sister; but tonight she did not care much.  Peace was so sulky,-not at all her sprightly, cheerful self,-and Allee felt out of sorts in sympathy.

Marie did not at once put in appearance with the usual covered tray, and Peace had just reached out an impatient hand to ring the bell when there was a sound of light steps on the stairs, and Gussie’s smiling face bobbed around the corner.

“Good evening,” she laughed, courtesying so low that the tray she bore tripped threateningly.

“What’s happened to Marie?” demanded Peace, ungraciously.  Then catching sight of the quaint garb the new waitress was wearing, her face lighted expectantly, and she cried in delight, “O, Gussie, how’d you come to think of that?  Ain’t that Swede dress pretty, Allee?  ’Tis Swede, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” laughed Gussie, perfectly satisfied with the reception of her little surprise.  “This is the way women dress in Sweden where I was born.”

“And I’ll bet you’ve got something nice under that napkin, too,” Peace hazarded, her eyes dancing with their old roguish gleam.

“I shouldn’t wonder a bit,” Gussie retorted, setting down the tray before the eager duet and carefully lifting off the white towel which covered it.  The girls looked mystified,-a trifle disappointed, it seemed to the watchful cook,-and she hastily explained, “I’ve brought you a Swedish supper.”

“A-what?” gasped Peace, still studying the queer dishes on the tray.

“A supper like the boys and girls in Sweden eat.”

“Oh-h!” cried both girls in unison.  “What fun!”

“Do they have this every night?” asked Allee, privately thinking that if they did she was glad she was an American.

“Oh, no, not always.  This is just a-a sample supper.  We have different dishes in Sweden just as you do here or in France or England.”

“Then make us another Swede supper tomorrow night,-and every night until we’ve et up all your Swede dishes.  Will you, Gussie?” wheedled Peace.

The older girl hesitated, frowned and said thoughtfully, “You would get tired of them very soon, girlie.  Lots you would not touch at all.  For instance, sour milk and sugar.”

“No, I shouldn’t like that,” Peace confessed, with an expressive shrug of her shoulders, “but-”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” the obliging Gussie interrupted.  “Tomorrow night we will have a French dinner, and you must tell everything you know about France.”

“Oh, how splendid!” Both children clapped their hands gleefully.  “And next night we’ll have a German dinner, and then an Italian and a Spanish and a Denmarkish and a Swiss, and a-a-”

Peace paused to think of some other countries, while Gussie stood appalled at the result of her suggestion.  But a glance at the glowing face on the pillow was ample reward, and suddenly realizing that she had given the weary prisoner a new and profitable play to occupy the long hours while the girls were away at school, she recklessly promised, “Dinners for every country in the world, if we can find out what each nation eats.  But mind, you must learn all you can about the people and their land.”

“It’ll be fun to do that,” Peace answered readily.  “I wonder why they don’t teach g’ography that way in school.  It would be a heap more interesting.”

Thus the long weeks rolled by, and unknown to Peace herself, she was not only keeping abreast of her classes in school, but forging ahead in her studies as she had never done before.

“It’s so int’resting to learn that way,” sighed the little prisoner blissfully, after a particularly impressive lesson supper one night.  “The only thing is, we’re going to run out of countries pretty soon, and then what will we do?  Already we’ve reached Asia.  I ate China last night and India tonight.  Tomorrow ’twill be Japan, and then there is only Africa and South America left before we get around the world.  They have all been such fun!  Some countries know how to cook lots better than others.  Now, I really dreaded getting to China, ’cause the books say Chinamen eat roasted rats, and I couldn’t bear to think of Gussie’s dishing up such horrible things as that; but the slop chewey and rice she cooked were simply deelicious.  I’ve always heard a lot about the India folks eating curry, too, and I thought it meant the hair they scratched off their horses with a curry-comb; so I was much surprised when Gussie made some for my dinner tonight.  It’s only soup with some stuff in it that makes it ’most too hot to eat.

“I can’t imagine what she will give me in Africa, ’cause we ain’t cannibals, and she never will even hint what’s coming next, but I guess she will get around it some way.  Why, in some countries the people eat horrible things!  In West Indies they bake snakes and fry palm worms!  Think of it!  Ugh, it makes me shiver!  The folks in Brazil eat ants, and in New Caledonia it’s spiders.  The Mexicans cook parrots and eat dynamite.  Do you s’pose they ever ’xplode?  And in France where Marie was born they just love snails-raw!  I’d as soon eat angleworms myself.  My!  I’m glad I’m a civilised huming being.  Course Gussie hasn’t fed me any of that junk, and it’s been lots of fun traveling this way.  I wish the world wasn’t round, but just stretched away and away.  Then there’d be room for more countries.”

“Maybe Gussie will take you around the world again,” suggested Allee comfortingly.

“You’d better take a trip through the United States next,” said Cherry, who privately thought Peace was having the most wonderful experiences that ever befell mortal man, and rather envied the invalid her easy lot,-for such it really seemed to her.

“Why, I never thought of that,” cried Peace, enchanted with the idea.  “But how could I, so’s it would be as interesting as eating in other countries?  We are all Americans here and cook the same things.”

“O, there’s lots of difference between our own states,” Cherry stoutly maintained.  “In Florida they raise oranges mostly, and cotton in Louisiana-”

“A person can’t eat cotton,” Peace broke in scornfully.

“I didn’t say they could,” replied Cherry as indignantly.  “But they grow other things, too.  Maine has the best apples in the country, Grandpa says; and Michigan the best peaches.  Georgia grows sweet potatoes-”

“And peanuts,” Peace interrupted, aglow with animation.

“Yes, and peanuts,” Cherry repeated.  “California is noted for its grapes, and-oh, every state has something it raises ’specially.  It would be as interesting traveling in the United States as in Europe, I think.”

“So do I,-now,” Peace conceded.  “And Gussie does make such a splendid teacher!  That’s what she ought to be all right, ’stead of a cook, though she does know how to cook wonderful things.  But I’m glad she has got ’most enough money saved up to take her through Normal College.  She can poke more real education into a fellow’s head in a minute than Miss Phelps can in a day.”

So the unique lessons continued, and Peace almost forgot at times that she was a prisoner unable to romp and play in the sunshiny out-of-doors which she loved so well.  She even whistled occasionally when the play was most interesting; and the members of the household, watching so anxiously over their idol, rejoiced that the color still bloomed in the round cheeks, and the merry sparkle so often danced in the big brown eyes.