Susan and Sarah sat still and smiling, waiting for Father to get everything set to take the picture. It wasn’t so bad, now he had the new Kodak Brownie camera; not at all like when Grandfather took a picture. That took just about forever, with Grandfather fussing with the lights and the reflectors, and the camera, and their hair, and skirts, and heads and just everything! And they had to sit so still for so long they were aching when they were finally allowed to go. At least with Father, it only took a few minutes.
Father held the camera steady, pressed the control and then turned the crank and did it again. “All right, girls, one of them should turn out fine. You may go now, and thank you for being such good models.” They jumped up and ran to the door, saying “You’re welcome, Father. Goodbye for now,” and they were gone. Father looked at the empty doorway and chuckled. 'Pauline will be scolding them again for unladylike behaviour, if she sees them,' he mused. 'I do wish she would let them be children while they still are. Time enough for being ladylike when they are six or eight years older.' He shrugged. He would try to calm her down some during the holidays. If the boys could run and play, the girls should be allowed to, too. If necessary, he would step in and insist.
Susan and Sarah hurried up to their room, and quickly changed out of their good school clothes. Once changed, they stood and looked at each other for a moment. “Um – what will we do now?” Susan asked.
“I’d like to go and explore in the little woods, but Mother would be very upset if we went off on our own. And the boys won’t let us go with them.”
“Right,” Susan agreed. She thought for a moment, then brightened. “I know – let’s explore the attic! We’ve never been up there, and we don’t need anyone to take us there, it’s right inside the house!”
“Oh, yes! I’ll bet there are lots of exciting and mysterious things up there to find. Come on, let’s go!” Grabbing Susan’s hand, Sarah headed out the door.
She was right, there were many things to discover in the attic. Broken furniture, but that wasn’t interesting. The trunks, boxes and chests of drawers, however, promised untold treasure. They spent several happy hours delving into trunks full of old fashioned clothes, and trying on some of them. They found big hat boxes with huge hats in, hats with wide brims, decorated with big feathers, and birds and bows. They found a tall mirror on a stand and had fun looking at how funny they looked in the clothes and hats.
In one of the chests of drawers, the found many old pictures. Some of the ladies were wearing some of the clothes and hats they had found. “How odd,” Sarah said. “Those things looked so funny on us, but on the ladies in the pictures, they look beautiful!”
“I guess that’s because they were meant to wear them, and we aren’t,” Susan said. "Oh, look!” she lifted a large picture out. “It’s Mother and Father’s wedding!”
Sarah leaned over to look. “Oh, wasn’t Mother beautiful? And Father is so handsome in his uniform. I wonder why they don’t have this in a frame downstairs where everyone can see it? Should we take it down and ask her to hang it: Or put it on the piano? It would be so nice to see it whenever we want.”
“Hmm…I think it would be better if we left it here, but we can talk to her about it. But I am getting very hot and thirsty, and I think it might be almost time for lunch. We’d better go down and wash our hands.” Putting the pictures back in the drawer, they walked down the stairs.
“OH! Whatever have you two been doing?” Mother stood glowering at them, hands on hips and foot tapping. “You are a disgrace! Look at you – covered in dust and cobwebs, you look almost as bad as chimney sweeps. Into your room, now!” she pointed an imperious finger. “You will have to be bathed and your hair washed. And you can do without lunch. When are you ever going to act like ladies?”
The girls went, heads bent sadly, hand in hand along the hall to their room, with Mother following. They were stripped and scrubbed, and clad in nightdresses. “Into bed with you,” she said. “Perhaps I will allow you to join the family for dinner.” She looked at them. “But for now, here,” she handed them the carafe water and a glass. “Drink as much water as you can, you are probably parched from all the dust you breathed in. And I don’t want to hear a sound, is that clear?”
They nodded. How was it that, no matter what they did, they were still in trouble? They hadn’t gone out of the yard, nor made a mess in their room, hadn't played noisy games, but here they were, punished again. They couldn’t help wishing they were back in school. Sighing, Susan poured some water into the glass and gave it to Sarah. Sarah took it and drank, and echoed the sigh.