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The Sunbridge Girls at Six Star Ranch was written by Eleanor H. Porter under the pen name of Eleanor Stuart. Genevieve Hartley, who has been in Sunbridge, New Hampshire, for her schooling has formed a club called ‘The Happy Hexagons.’ The story is mainly a narration of a vacation which these six young girls spend in Texas at the ‘Six Star Ranch, ‘ at the invitation of Mr. Hartley, its owner. Eleanor H. Porter knows how to write for young people. Her knowledge of outdoor life, her understanding of girls’ ambitions, foibles, and daily problems help to fill the story with inspiration.
The Reverend Thomas Wilson’s sister, Miss Sophronia, had come to Sunbridge on a Tuesday evening late in June to make her brother’s family a long-promised visit. But it was not until the next morning that she heard something that sent her to her sister-in-law in a burst of astonishment almost too great for words.
“For pity’s sake, Mary, what is this I hear?” she demanded. “Edith insists that her cousin, Cordelia, is going to Texas next week–to Texas!–Cordelia!”
“Yes, she is, Sophronia,” replied the minister’s wife, trying to make her answer sound as cheerful and commonplace as she could, and as if Texas were in the next room. (It was something of a trial to Mrs. Thomas Wilson that her husband’s sister could not seem to understand that she, a minister’s wife for eighteen years and the mother of five children, ought to know what was proper and right for her orphaned niece to do–at least fully as much as should a spinster, who had never brought up anything but four cats and a parrot!) “Edith is quite right. Cordelia is going to Texas next week.”
“But, Mary, are you crazy? To let a child like that go all the way from here to Texas–one would think New Hampshire and Texas were twenty miles apart!”
Mrs. Wilson sighed a little wearily.
“Cordelia isn’t exactly a child, Sophronia, you must remember that. She was sixteen last November; and she’s very self-reliant and capable for her age, too. Besides, she isn’t going alone, you know.”
“Alone!” exclaimed Miss Sophronia. “Mary, surely, the rest that Edith said isn’t true! Those other girls aren’t going, too, are they?–Elsie Martin, and that flyaway Tilly Mack, and all?”
“I think they are, Sophronia.”
“Well, of all the crazy things anybody ever heard of!” almost groaned the lady. “Mary, what are you thinking of?”
“I’m thinking of Cordelia,” returned the minister’s wife, with a spirit that was as sudden as it was unusual. “Sophronia, for twelve years, ever since she came to me, Cordelia has been just a Big Sister in the family; and she’s had to fetch and carry and trot and run her little legs off for one after another of the children, as well as for her uncle and me. You know how good she is, and how conscientious. You know how anxious she always is to do exactly right. She’s never had a playday, and I’m sure she deserves one if ever a girl did! Vacations to her have never meant anything but more care and more time for housework.”
Mrs. Wilson paused for breath, then went on with renewed vigor.
“When this chance came up, Tom and I thought at first, of course, just as you did, that it was quite out of the question; but–well, we decided to let her go. And I haven’t been sorry a minute since. She’s Tom’s only brother’s child, but we’ve never been able to do much for her, as you know. We can let her have this chance, though. And she’s so happy–dear child!”
“But what is it? How did it happen? Who’s going? Edith’s story sounded so absurd to me I could make precious little out of it. She insisted that the ‘Happy X’s’ were going.”
The minister’s wife smiled.
“It’s the girls’ ‘Hexagon Club,’ Sophronia. They call themselves the ‘Happy Hexagons.’ There are six of them.”
“Humph!” commented Miss Sophronia. “Who are they–besides Cordelia?”
“Bertha Brown, Tilly Mack, Alma Lane, Elsie Martin, and Genevieve Hartley.”
“And who?” frowned Miss Sophronia at the last name.
“Genevieve Hartley. She is the little Texas girl. It is to her ranch they are going.”
“But who is she? What’s she doing here?”
“She’s been going to school this winter. She’s at the Kennedys’.”
“A Texas ranch-girl at the Kennedys’! Why, they’re nice people!” exclaimed Miss Sophronia, opening wide her eyes.
Mrs. Wilson laughed now outright.
“You’d better not let Miss Genevieve hear you say ‘nice’ in that tone of voice–and in just that connection, Sophronia,” she warned her. “Genevieve might think you meant to insinuate that there weren’t any nice people in Texas–and she’s very fond of Texas!”
Miss Sophronia smiled grimly.
“Well, I don’t mean that, of course. Still, a ranch must be sort of wild and–and mustangy, seems to me; and I was thinking of the Kennedys, especially Miss Jane Chick. Imagine saying ‘wild’ and ‘Miss Jane’ in the same breath!”
“Yes, I know,” smiled Mrs. Wilson; “and I guess Genevieve has been something of a trial–in a way; though they love her dearly–both of them. She’s a very lovable girl. But she is heedless and thoughtless; and, of course, she wasn’t at all used to our ways here in the East. Her mother died when she was eight years old; since then she has been brought up by her father on the ranch. She blew into Sunbridge last August like a veritable breeze from her own prairies–and the Kennedy home isn’t used to breezes–especially Miss Jane. I imagine Genevieve did stir things up a little there all winter–though she has improved a great deal since she came.”