A Handful of Time
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When Patricia's mother sends her to her cousins' cottage for the summer, Patricia doesn't want to go. She doesn't know her cousins at all, and she's never been good at camping or canoeing, let alone making new friends.
All right, but don’t blame me if you get into trouble. ” She had a hard time pulling the heavy wagon back to the cottage. The full bottles jiggled and spilled water on the bumpy road. Patricia tried pushing and grinned at Ruth’s surprise when her task became easier. Gordon helped her carry the water into the kitchen. “Rodney’s gone to a marshmallow roast at the Thorpes,” Ruth told him. “The Thorpes? ” said Gordon eagerly. Patricia followed him into the living room as he handed his father the newspaper and asked if he could go as well.
Because loons come here. Our grandparents must have named it—it’s a really old canoe. Christie and Bruce’s is lighter, but this one’s steadier. ” “What do loons look like? ” “Don’t you know? ” A trace of familiar scorn came back into Kelly’s voice. “Loons are wonderful—big birds with black heads and speckled bands around their necks. They used to nest on this lake but now it’s too noisy, so they just come here to feed. You hear them mostly at night. They sound like they’re laughing. That’s why people say someone’s loony.
Kelly,” said Aunt Ginnie firmly, “I’m very disappointed in you. Patricia is our guest for two months. She isn’t used to a lot of children, or to a cottage and a lake. You must be nice to her. Especially because …” Don’t tell her! prayed Patricia, digging her nails into her palms. Uncle Doug had promised not to. “Because why? ” “Because she’s my sister’s only child and she’s away from home and I want her to be happy here. So you and Trevor and the others have to help her feel at home. Especially you, because you’re the oldest.
We’ll meet back here for dinner and I guess you’ll have to stick with us in the evenings because Mum’s around more then. But at least we’ll all have our afternoons free and no one will get into trouble. Is it a deal? ” She and Trevor looked almost pleadingly at Patricia. There wasn’t any choice. It was obvious they didn’t want to be with her, and she didn’t want to be with them either. But what was she going to do with herself every afternoon? “All right,” she whispered. “It’s a deal. ” “Great! It’s really for the best, Potty,” Kelly sounded almost kind.
For the next few days Aunt Ginnie looked grim, as if she wanted to say something to her older sister but didn’t dare. “It’s not right,” Patricia heard her whisper to Aunt Karen. “Girls belong with their mothers. ” “But if Patricia chose her father …” I didn’t choose anyone, thought Patricia listlessly. They forced me to make a decision, that’s all. In a way, it was a relief to have it all out in the open. Patricia’s mother chatted easily about London and her husband and sometimes even Johanna’s name was mentioned, establishing her as a fact.