VEVI became very indignant when she heard the purpose of Mrs. Gabriel’s call.

“Why, how could she accuse me of such a thing?” she asked, deeply hurt. “I never took anything in my life.”

“I told Mrs. Gabriel that,” declared Mrs. McGuire. “She was quite demanding and rude. You did ride in her car, Vevi?”

“Yes, Mother. She offered me a lift from Windmill Farm. I think she asked me a million questions. Then she made me get out and walk part of the way.”

“You didn’t take anything from her car?”

“Of course not. Only the bag of tulip bulbs Hanny gave me.”

“Could you have mixed the bags?”

“I don’t think I did,” Vevi said. “I will show you the bulbs.”

For safe keeping, the little girl had stored the bag in the basement. Quickly she brought it upstairs.

Mrs. McGuire untied the strings and peered into the bag.

“Tulip bulbs all look alike to me,” she said. “If you are sure these are yours, Vevi—”

“Oh, I am, Mother!”

“Then forget Mrs. Gabriel,” advised Mrs. McGuire. “To tell you the truth, her accusation annoyed me. I offered to pay her for any bulbs she thought she had lost, but that did not satisfy her. Nor would she give me her address so that I could call her after talking to you, Vevi. I am afraid she is a trouble maker.”

No more was said about the bulbs. Jane and Connie stayed for lunch. After the dishes had been done, Mrs. McGuire went next door to talk with Connie’s mother.

“If we are going to plant tulips we will have to do it right away,” Jane announced. “It is nearly time for me to go home now.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t plant the Golden Beauties now,” Connie suggested doubtfully. “Mrs. Gabriel might make trouble if she thinks they are her tulips.”

“They’re mine,” Vevi said. “Hanny gave them to me. Anyway, Mrs. Gabriel didn’t think so much of her precious old tulips or she wouldn’t have dumped them along the roadside.”

“Do you really think she did?” Connie asked.

“That empty bag looked exactly like one I saw in her car.”

“But your bag—the one Hanny gave you—has the same kind of markings,” Connie pointed out. “Vevi, maybe you did make a mistake and pick up the wrong one.”

“No such thing,” Vevi insisted emphatically. “Anyway, even if I did, Mrs. Gabriel got another bag of tulips better than her own. Everyone knows the Golden Beauties are the very best.”

“That’s so,” agreed Jane. “Even if there was a mix-up, she came out with good tulips. I don’t see why she’s making such a fuss.”

“Let’s plant the Brownie flower bed,” urged Connie who had wearied of the discussion. “Come on.”

Carrying the bag of bulbs and Jane’s garden tools, the girls set off for the library.

“We ought to tell Miss Mohr what we are doing,” Connie suggested. “Maybe she will tell us how to do it right.”

“Oh, anyone can plant tulip bulbs,” Vevi said carelessly. “Hanny told me how.”

Nevertheless, the three girls went into the building to find Miss Mohr. Another librarian told them that she had left twenty minutes earlier with Peter Van Der Lann.

“We don’t need anyone to tell us how to plant,” Vevi insisted. “It’s easy.”

“I guess it will be all right,” Connie agreed with a troubled frown. “Only the Brownies may not like it. They may want other flowers in the bed.”

“Tulips are the very best,” Vevi declared. “And Golden Beauties are the nicest bulbs.”

“The only thing—you aren’t sure you’re planting Golden Beauties,” Jane teased. “For all you know, they may be Mrs. Gabriel’s tulips!”

“No such thing,” Vevi insisted, opening the bag. “These are my culls.”

“What’s a cull?” Jane asked for she was unfamiliar with the word.

“That means a bulb that isn’t as good as the regular stock,” Vevi explained. “It will bloom though. Hanny said so.”

The little girl poured some of the bulbs out on the grass. All were well-shaped, fat specimens.

“Those look like good bulbs to me,” declared Jane. “Connie, don’t they seem exactly like the ones we found on the road?”

“They look the same to me.”

Vevi said nothing. She began to dig a neat hole in the well-pulverized ground.

“Tulip bulbs have to be put in deep,” directed Connie. “I know that, because I heard Mr. Van Der Lann telling Miss Gordon.”

“I am digging the hole deep,” Vevi replied. “At least six inches. That ought to be deep enough.”

She pressed the first bulb down into the spot she had prepared for it.

“Hey, I thought you said you knew how to plant bulbs!” Jane hooted. “You’re putting it in upside down!”

“The sprout end has to be up and the roots underneath,” added Connie. “Anyone knows that, Vevi.”

“Oh, I wasn’t ready to plant the bulb,” Vevi said, hastily turning it over. “I was only trying it in the hole to see if I had dug it the right size.”

“Let me dig,” Jane demanded, after the first bulb had been planted and covered with soil. “It takes you too long, Vevi.”

“I’ll hand you the bulbs,” Vevi offered, willing enough to turn the harder job over to her friend.

Jane dug a series of small holes all around the circular bed. She worked fast and spaced them evenly.

“Now hand me the bulbs one at a time,” she instructed.

Vevi dumped them all out of the bag. From the very bottom of the canvas sack out tumbled a handful of small gray, greasy appearing pellets.

“What are those?” Connie demanded curiously.

Picking up one of the hard, round pieces, she rubbed it between her fingers.

“It must be fertilizer,” Vevi declared. “Put one in with each tulip bulb.”

Jane followed instructions, carefully pressing a pellet at the base of each bulb. There were not enough of them to finish the task. The last of the bulbs had to be planted without the “fertilizer.”

“There! That’s done,” Jane said in relief when the last bulb had been firmly covered with earth. “I’m tired too! My legs feel as if they will drop off.”

“Your neck is all red,” Connie informed her. “I think you are sunburned.”

Jane gingerly rubbed her neck which smarted and felt uncomfortable.

“I hurt all over,” she complained. “Tulips are too much work.”

“I don’t think they are,” declared Vevi, who had dug only one hole. “Anyway, it is worth while. The Brownies will have one of the nicest flower beds in Rosedale.”

“I just hope the other Brownies ’preciate all the work we’ve done,” Jane muttered. “It’s late and I’m going home.”

She began to gather up the tools. Her Brownie uniform was smudged with dirt and so were her sox.

Vevi and Connie walked along with Jane, helping her carry the tools. Vevi had picked up the empty canvas bag too, not wanting to leave it on the library lawn.

Before the girls had walked three blocks, Jane noticed someone coming toward them.

“See who is heading our way!” she directed the attention of her companions.

A woman was coming down the street. As she saw the three girls, she began to walk faster.

“It’s Mrs. Gabriel,” Vevi recognized her. “She looks cross too.”

Mrs. Gabriel’s high heels were clicking like knitting needles by the time she came face to face with the trio.

“Well!” she exclaimed, glaring at Vevi. “At last I’ve found you!”

“I haven’t been anywhere,” Vevi answered innocently.

“I want my bag of tulip bulbs,” Mrs. Gabriel announced.

Your bag,” said Vevi. “Do you mean my sack of culls that Hanny gave me?”

“Don’t try to pretend. When you rode in my car, you were carrying a bag of bulbs. Either by accident, or on purpose, you left yours behind and took one of mine. I want it back—now.”

“I took a bag of tulip bulbs. But I thought it was mine—”

“You’re carrying the empty sack now,” Mrs. Gabriel fairly screamed. “Give it to me.”

She snatched the bag from Vevi’s hand, excitedly examining the numerals.

“This is the sack!” she cried. “Now where are the contents?”

“I didn’t mean to mix up the bags,” Vevi apologized. “I thought—”

“Never mind what you thought,” Mrs. Gabriel broke in angrily. “Just tell me what you did with the tulip bulbs.”

“I don’t see why you’re so excited about it,” Jane said before Vevi could answer. “You threw all your other bulbs away.”

“In a culvert,” added Connie accusingly.

“Why, you insolent, stupid children!” Mrs. Gabriel cried. “Such arrogance! I want my tulip bulbs. Do you understand?”

The Brownies never had seen anyone more angry. Mrs. Gabriel seized Vevi by the arm, squeezing it so hard that the muscle hurt.

“What have you done with my bulbs?” she demanded.

“Let me go and I’ll tell you,” Vevi answered, trying to pull away. “I never will when you act so cross.”

Mrs. Gabriel dropped her arm. She even forced a stiff sort of smile.

“There, child, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” she said in a wheedling tone. “Just tell me what you did with the contents of the bag.”

“We planted the bulbs in the Brownie Scout bed at the library,” Vevi answered. “I didn’t mean to take your bulbs. But you got mine. So wasn’t it a fair exchange?”

“A fair exchange?” Mrs. Gabriel cried, her voice shrill. “You planted the tulips! That bag was worth a small fortune to me. Oh, I could shake you!”

Vevi backed away, rather afraid of the irate woman.

“What did you do with the pellets that were in the bag?” she demanded.

“You mean those little pieces of fertilizer?” Vevi stammered. “We planted them with the bulbs!”

“Oh!” gasped Mrs. Gabriel. She started to scold Vevi and then abandoned the tirade. With a gesture of both anger and despair, she brushed past the girls and went rapidly away.

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