Princess Polly's Playmates
by
Amy Brooks

Part 1 out of 3







Juliet Sutherland, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading
Team.



PRINCESS POLLY'S PLAYMATES

By AMY BROOKS

AUTHOR OF

"Princess Polly," "Princess Polly at School," "Princess
Polly by the Sea," "Princess Polly's Gay Winter,"
"Princess Polly at Play."




CONTENTS

CHAPTER
I. IN THE GARDEN

II. A LITTLE HERO

III. POLLY VISITS ROSE

IV. THE VILLAGE NUISANCE

V. THE LITTLE GREEN DOOR

VI. AT THE STUDIO

VII. AN UNEXPECTED GUEST

VIII. AT THE SHORE

IX. PRINCESS POLLY RETURNS

X. GWEN CALLS UPON POLLY

XI. GWEN TELLS A STORY

XII. GYP RUNS AWAY




PRINCESS POLLY'S PLAYMATES




CHAPTER I

IN THE GARDEN

"IF it was only true that castles COULD be enchanted, then I'd surely
think Sherwood Hall was one," said the little girl with soft, dreamy
eyes.

"You'd think Sherwood Hall was what?" questioned the other little girl,
who had paused to rest her foot upon a stone, while she tied the ribbons
of her shoe.

"An enchanted castle!"

"Why Vivian Osborne! You're always thinking of fairy tales," was the
quick reply, and she laughed as if the idea were impossible.

"Now Leslie Grafton," Vivian replied, "you just come here, and look
where Sherwood Hall shows between the trees. See the sun on the red
roofs, and on those lovely windows! Can't you almost SEE the captive
princess looking from her casement?"

"Well there she is!" cried Leslie laughing, "and we don't have to ALMOST
see her. We can TRULY see her."

"Oh, wasn't it fine that just as we were talking, Princess Polly opened
her window, and looked out," said Vivian, as together they ran up the
avenue, and in at the gateway of Sherwood Hall.

"It was Lena Lindsey who first thought of calling her 'Princess Polly,'
and she's always so sweet that the name seems to belong to her," said
Leslie.

Polly had seen them, and when they reached the house, she was waiting to
greet them.

"The postman is coming!" they cried, "the postman is coming, and we ran
ahead to tell you!"

"Oh, perhaps there's a letter from Rose!" said Polly.

"That's what we thought," said Leslie, "and if there is, DO tell us some
of it. We love Rose Atherton as much as you do."

Polly Sherwood shaded her eyes with her hand, and looked along the broad
avenue.

"Oh, now I see him!" she cried, "and he's taking out a handful of
letters as he comes along."

The postman laughed at Polly's eagerness.

"Three for you, Miss Polly," he said, as he placed them in her hands.

Polly looked at the envelopes. "That one is from my cousin," she said.
"She always uses pink paper, and that one is from a little girl I used
to play with before we came to live at Sherwood Hall. I know, because
her paper is always pale green, but THIS one--" she held up the envelope
with a little cry of delight, "THIS one is from Rose!"

With Leslie and Vivian looking over her shoulder, Polly opened the
letter.

"Read it with me," she said.

"Oh, read it aloud while we listen," said Leslie.

Rose had been a dear little playmate when she had lived with her Aunt
Judith in a little cottage, near Sherwood Hall. Now that she had gone to
live with her Great-Aunt Rose, for whom she had been named, and some
miles distant, her little friends remembered her, and wished that she
were with them.

Now, as Polly read the letter, it seemed as if little Rose Atherton were
talking to them.

"Dear Princess Polly:--" the letter began, and then followed loving
assurance of her true affection for her "own Polly," very tender
inquiries for Sir Mortimer, the beautiful cat, and tales of little
happenings in the new home.

"Great-Aunt Rose is kind, and Aunt Lois is gentle and sweet, but I'm
LONSUM.

"The rooms are large, and cool and dark, and sometimes when the garden
is hot and sunny, I go to the parlor, and try to amuse myself, but oh, I
wish I had someone to play with. "When I try to pick out a tune on the
piano, the notes sound so loud, I turn around to see if Aunt Rose is
provokt, but she never folows me. There's a portrate of a funny old man
that hangs at the end of the parlor, and I always think he's watching
me. When I smile, he seems to smile, and when I'm lonsum, he doesn't
look jolly at all. There's five people in this house beside me. There's
my two aunts, and three servants, but no one makes any noise, and oh,
sometimes I WISH they would.

"Aunt Rose says sometime she'll give a party for me, but she says there
must be no romping, and that it must be dig-ni-fide. I don't believe I
spelled that right, and I'm not sure what it means, but it doesn't sound
nice. I don't believe the children that come to it, will like a party
that's digni--, I can't write that long word again.

"Aunt Lois is to have her portrate painted, and I'm to go with her to
the artist's studyo.

"Aunt Rose just came in, and said, 'That is a long letter. Shall I help
you with the spelling?' I didn't let her. I know some of the words are
funny, but I don't want her to see this letter.

"I haven't said anything norty in it, only about how quiet and lonsum it
is, but she mite not like that. I just had to tell you. Aunt Rose is
going to ask you to visit me, and I'll be so glad when you come.

Your loving little friend,

ROSE.

P.S.--Aunt Rose said this morning that I ort to sine my name, Rose
Jerusha Atherton, because that's her name, and I was named for her. How
can I? Isn't JERUSHA orful?"

Of course the three little friends sympathized with Rose.

They felt as if they had seen the quaint, beautiful old house, with its
dark, cool rooms.

They seemed to see bright, merry little Rose, now quiet, and lonely,
wandering through the great hall to the parlor, to find a companion in
the piano, or looking up into the friendly face of the old gentleman
whose portrait she had described.

"And she says she is to go with her aunt to the artist's studio," said
Leslie, "and wouldn't I like to do that? Just think what fun it would be
to see him painting."

"I wonder if he'll let Rose watch him?" said Polly.

"There'd be no fun in going if she couldn't see him paint," declared
Leslie "and if I were Rose, I WOULD watch him, if I had to peep when he
wasn't looking."

"Oh you WOULDN'T!" said Vivian.

"I WOULD," said Leslie firmly, and Vivian did not reply.

"I wonder what her Aunt Lois will wear?" said Polly. "All of the
portraits in our drawing room are young ladies in lovely gowns, with
flowers in their hair, and jewels, many, many jewels, and plumes, and
fans. Her Aunt Lois wouldn't wear such things as that!"

They wondered much about the portrait, and decided to question Rose
regarding it.

"And now," said Polly, "I'll lay these letters on the table in the hall.
I can read them later. We'll play."

It was easy to choose a game. The first choice, when the little
playmates were at Sherwood Hall, was always "Hide-and-Seek."

There were such fine places for hiding, so many odd nooks where no one
would ever think of looking that the game seemed always new, and
interesting.

They had been playing but a short time, when Inez Varney ran up the
driveway.

"What are you playing?" she asked.

"Hide-and-Seek," said Polly, "and it's Lena's turn to blind. Come! I
know a fine place, big enough for three."

Usually Inez objected to whatever game her friends chose, but she was in
a pleasant mood, and said that she would rather play "Hide-and-Seek"
than anything else.

She clasped Polly's hand, and while Lena counted, the three ran off to
the place that should be large enough to keep them from sight.

One fact made Inez easy to please; Rose was not with them.

Rose Atherton had been a bright, merry little playmate, beloved by all
save Inez, and yet the only fault that Inez could find in Rose was her
popularity.

Naturally jealous, Inez did not like to see that everyone loved Rose,
and to know that Polly Sherwood, or Princess Polly, as everyone called
her, cared more for Rose than for any of her friends, seemed really too
provoking.

"NOW, Princess Polly must choose another BEST friend, and I wish it
might be ME!" thought Inez.

She knew that Rose was sweet tempered. She knew that her own temper was
hasty.

Could she keep from saying the sharp things that so often came from her
red lips? She MUST, if she would win Polly's love!

Inez was pleasing to look at, but she was wrong in thinking herself more
attractive than the other playmates.

Vivian and Leslie were much prettier than Inez, and they were pleasant
and good tempered, always ready for a merry time, while Blanche Burton,
and her little sister, Dollie, were ever welcome at Sherwood Hall.

It surely would seem as if Inez were foolish to think Princess Polly
might prefer her silly little self, to all the others.

Indeed, she would have been far happier to have been willing to be one
of her many playmates. Inez was not at all content, however. She wished
to be PREFERRED.

The game went on merrily, and Inez seemed gayer than usual.

"Tag" followed "Hide-and-Seek," and the music of their merry laughter
echoed through the garden, as they chased each other around the clumps
of shrubbery, across the brook, and through the grove.

It was Vivian, who innocently caused the first sharp word to be spoken.

They were resting in the shade of some flowering shrubs. Princess Polly
had taken off her large hat, and wielding it as a fan, blew the bright
curls back from her pink cheeks.

"If Rose were here, she'd say:

"'Now while we're resting, Princess Polly, tell us a fairy tale,'" said
Vivian.

"That's just what she'd say," said Polly, "and one afternoon we sat
beside the brook, near the fountain, and took turns telling them."

Inez looked at Polly's eyes, and saw the regret that they so plainly
expressed.

She would have been pleased if her little playmates had never mentioned
Rose.

"And once," continued Polly, "we played that we were fairy queens, and
we made flower crowns. It was early morning, and we tried to pick the
flowers with the dew on them, but the dewdrops fell off. Then we
sprinkled them with water from the brook, and they sparkled like
diamonds."

Inez moved uneasily.

"We have fine times together," said Vivian, "but it was still brighter
when Rose was here."

"Anybody'd think we couldn't play without her!" snapped Inez, springing
to her feet, and running across the lawn.

Then realizing that she had been rude, and not wishing to offend Polly,
she turned, and looking over her shoulder, she said:

"I must go home now, so I'll just hurry."

"Why, a minute a go she was sitting as still as if she intended to stay
here all night!" said Vivian.

"It was what you said, Vivian, that made her run off," said Leslie.

"What did I say?" questioned Vivian.

"Oh, you said it was nicer to have Rose with us," explained Leslie.

"She's likely to hear us talk of Rose whenever she comes here," said
Polly.

"Then she'll stay away," said Leslie.

Polly would not say what was in her mind, but Leslie was less careful.

"Let her just stay away then!" she said, stoutly, "we love Rose, and
we're wondering how long it will be before we'll see her. She's sweeter
than Inez."

Sweet Princess Polly! She would not say anything unpleasant even of
Inez.

"Rose is just dear," she said, but of Inez she said nothing.

"Inez says mean things," said Vivian, "and it would be real hard to
forgive her, so it's lucky she doesn't ever ask us to."

"Why Vivian!" cried Polly, "you would if she asked you to, wouldn't
you?"

Vivian did not like to answer, so she only said:

"She wouldn't ask me."

Just at that moment Harry Grafton sprang over the wall, and joined the
group.

"Inez Varney is waiting for you and Vivian," he said. "I was going over
to call for Rob Lindsey, and just as I was passing, she asked me to tell
you. I asked her why she didn't come in and wait for you here, but she
only shook her head, and said; 'Oh, because.' That's a girl's reason,
and it's a funny one."

Harry laughed, and then, having delivered his message, he ran down the
driveway, and up the avenue to call for his chum, Rob.

He nodded to Inez as he passed her, whistling gaily as he hurried along.

"Girls are queer," he said, pausing in his whistling solo, to speak his
thoughts.

"Even nice girls are queer SOMETIMES," he murmured. "Of course Princess
Polly is always pleasant, and my sister Leslie isn't even odd, but Inez
is freaky, and Vivian, well,--she's something like Inez."

In the garden the three little girls stood where Harry had left them.

"What shall we do?" said Leslie. "We came to play with you, Polly, what
ought we to do?"

Polly's eyes had looked troubled, but now she smiled.

"Oh, go, please, and see Inez. Perhaps she truly wishes she'd been
pleasant. You can come ANY time to play with me, but it's NOW that Inez
feels good."

Polly's words were wise. She knew Inez to be hasty, and she thought that
if, for the moment, she was sorry for her rudeness, she should have the
chance to say so, before she could change her mind.

Leslie would not say so, but in truth, she did not care what Inez had to
say.

Vivian was curious, and eager to know why Inez had waited so long to see
them.

Inez stood at the gateway waiting for her two playmates.

Leslie said something about having to hurry home, but Vivian pausing
beside Inez, waited for her to speak.

It was not pleasant to stand talking on the sunny sidewalk, and turning,
they walked a little way up the driveway.

Polly questioned if Inez really might be sorry for her hasty words.
Nothing could have tempted her to listen, nor was she near enough to
have heard a word that they were saying, but from where she was
standing, she could see Inez and Vivian. She wondered why Leslie had not
remained. The shrubbery hid her, but she could see them plainly.

She saw Inez lay her hand upon Vivian's arm.

"Oh, I WISH they'd make up," whispered Princess Polly.

Then something soft rubbed against her ankles.

"Oh, darling Sir Mortimer!" she whispered, "they are ALMOST making up!"

She peeped again, daintily holding back her skirts.

"They're not smiling yet," she said softly.

"I guess we won't wait," she whispered, as she stooped to take the big
cat in her arms.

"Keep still, Mortimer," she said, "I'm going to whisper right in your
ear. I LIKE them all, but I LOVE Rose."

Sir Mortimer rubbed his soft head against Polly's pink cheek.

"That means that you do, too," said Polly.




CHAPTER II

A LITTLE HERO

"Tell us a story," said Lena Lindsey, and her brother echoed her words.
"Oh, Rob, what shall I tell? Lena wants a fairy tale, and you wouldn't
like that; boys never do," said Polly.

"Oh, yes he would," Lena said quickly, "if it's about knights, and
princes, like the one you told the other day."

"That's it," agreed Rob, "tell us one about somebody who goes out to
seek his fortune."

Princess Polly dearly loved fairy tales, and on stormy days, with Sir
Mortimer purring in her lap, would sit for hours reading stories of
elves, and dwarfs, of splendor and enchantment.

Then, on sunny days she would tell them to her playmates, and often she
spun them from her own imaginings.

"Tell us one you made up!" the children often said.

Now, while with Rob, and Lena, she sat upon the grass, and watched their
eager faces, she decided to tell a new, and charming tale that would
delight them. "Once upon a time," said Polly--

"That's right!" cried Rob.

Polly shook her finger to silence him, and began again.

"Once upon a time there lived a prince who was very, VERY handsome, but
very poor.

"One day he found that his money was almost gone, so he took his pet
horse, and started out to seek his fortune.

"He rode, and rode 'til he came to a dark forest. He was a brave prince,
so he was not afraid, and rode right into the woods, and when he reached
a pool, he stopped to let his horse drink,--"

"Oh, this is the interesting part where something happens, but it's so
warm, I'll have to run up to the house, and get my little sunshade,"
said Polly.

"Wait just a minute," cried Rob, "stay just where you are, and I'll
bring you one."

"Why, Rob, where'll you get it?" said Lena.

"Just you wait, and you'll see!" cried Rob, turning as he ran to say,
"don't tell any more 'til I come."

"What DID he mean?" Polly asked, but Lena could not guess, and they
wondered if Rob had been joking.

They had not long to wait, however, for in a few moments he came running
back to them, waving a huge leaf over his head.

It proved to be a rhubarb leaf, with a red stalk.

"There!" he cried, "I went over home on purpose to get this for you."

"Oh it's a big green sunshade, with a fine red handle," cried Polly,
"how pretty! Now I can tell the story."

"Yes, and you can tell it all before your sunshade WILTS!" said Lena,
with a laugh.

"That's a fine sunshade," said Rob, as he handed her the leaf.

"And Polly looks like a princess under it," said Lena.

"Now, tell the story," said Rob.

"And while his horse was drinking, a mist floated over the pool, and out
of the mist sprang a little, old witch," continued Polly, leaning
forward, and lowering her voice, to make the tale sound mysterious.

Lena and Rob bent toward her, that not a word might be lost.

"What happened?" whispered Rob.

Polly's eyes were bright.

She raised her forefinger, as she spoke.

"'Take the path to the right,' said the little, old witch, 'and KEEP to
the right, no matter how thick the forest, and you'll come to a
fountain. At the fountain you'll find a beautiful nymph, and SHE'LL tell
you what to do next.'"

"And did he?" questioned Rob, eagerly.

"Be still, Rob. Let Polly tell it," whispered Lena, laying her hand on
his arm.

"The Prince mounted his horse," continued Polly, "and just then he
noticed the little path at the right of the pool. He'd not seen it
before. He turned his horse into the path, and the horse acted as if he
knew the way, and trotted along at a fine gait.

"At last he reached the fountain, but the nymph wasn't anywhere in
sight.

"'What DID the witch tell me to say?' said the prince.

"Then a voice said:

"'Cymbrel! Cymbrel!
By a fountain or a well,
Whistle thrice, and you shall see,
A lovely nymph will come to thee!'

"Then the prince called out: 'Cymbrel! Cymbrel!' and whistled three
times, and out of the fountain rose a lovely nymph. There were pearls
and diamonds in her hair, and her robe was of rainbow colored mist.

"She held out her hand, and the prince sprang from his horse, and bowed
low before her.

"'There never was anyone so lovely as you,' said the prince, and he
was--"

"Just WILD to win her," said Rob, who had been silent a long time.

"That's it," agreed Polly, "he was wild to win her, and he didn't say a
word, for fear that the mist would melt, and she'd disappear.

"Then she spoke, and her voice sounded like music.

"'I am enchanted,'" she said.

"And the prince said 'So am _I_,'" said Rob.

"Oh, no he DIDN'T," laughed Polly.

"You mustn't interrupt," said Lena.

"I'm not interrupting," said Rob, "I'm only helping Princess Polly with
the story, and telling how I'd have felt, if I'd been the prince."

"Well, you aren't the prince," Lena replied, "so you listen."

"When the prince looked up, and saw that the lovely nymph was smiling,
he felt so strong and brave that he told her that he wanted to win her,
and he asked what would--would undo, oh that ISN'T the word, but that's
what he meant," said Polly, "so never mind, I'll use it. He wanted to
know what would undo the enchantment.

"'You can not win me until I am disenchanted. Free me, and I am yours.
My enchantment must last until the ogre who dwells in this forest is
killed,' whispered the nymph.

"The prince drew his sword.

"'With this I will free you, and you shall be mine,' he said, and
mounting his horse he rode through the forest, looking this way, and
that, in search of the ogre.

"Every evening he rode back to the fountain, and there he wearily told
the nymph that he had not yet found the ogre.

"She always told him to be brave, and continue the search.

"At last came a day when there was a fearful battle in the woods!"
Polly's eyes were bright, and she leaned forward in her excitement.

Her rhubarb leaf parasol had wilted, and she cast it aside.

"There was a gale that broke the great branches of the trees, and pulled
up shrubs by the roots, and when the wind was blowing hardest, the ogre
rushed out from his cave, right into the pathway in front of the
prince's horse.

"The horse pranced, and pawed the dirt, because he was scared, but the
prince was brave.

"He thought only of the beautiful nymph, and he slashed at the big ogre,
and with the third blow from his sword the ogre fell dead.

"Then the prince rode back to the fountain, and there stood the nymph,
only she wasn't a nymph any more, but a real, truly princess.

"She ran to meet him, and he swung her up into his saddle, and they rode
back to his castle.

"There she told him that he need never leave her to seek his fortune,
because she had more gold than they could ever spend, and so they lived
happy ever after."

"Oh, I love to have the fairy tales end like that," said Lena, with a
happy sigh.

"And when a fellow hears of a prince who is daring, he wants to start
right out, and do something just as brave," said Rob, his brown eyes
looking out across to the distant hills. "There isn't the chance to save
nymphs, and princesses, now!"

"Oh, Rob, it doesn't matter," said Polly, "for if there was a nymph to
fight for, I just KNOW you'd be brave!"

"I'm SURE I would mean to be, but I haven't had the chance to try!" said
Rob, with a sudden fit of shyness, "but if it was YOU, Polly, I'd--I'd
do most anything!"

"I know you would," Polly answered gently.

"That was a lovely story," said Lena, "did you make it up?"

"Yes, and I got so excited when the ogre came out, and rushed at the
prince, that I was all out of breath just TELLING it," said Polly.

"And when you told about the gale you frightened me," said Lena,
"because I was SURE that the ogre was coming!"

Polly had a charming way of telling her stories, and those who listened,
remembered them, and thought of them again and again.

Perhaps Rob thought oftener of them, than did any other of her friends.
He was very fond of Polly, and never thought of her as Polly Sherwood,
but always as Princess Polly.

He would not have told his thoughts to anyone, but in his heart he
longed to do something brave that she might know that he had not boasted
idly, when he had said that her fairy tales had made him long to do
valiant deeds.

For days after the morning spent at Sherwood Hall, Rob dreamed of the
story that Polly had told.

"Oh, pshaw! Those things don't happen nowadays," he muttered, in
disgust. "Not that fairy things EVER happened," he added, "but knights
really lived, and they did things that proved their courage."

While Rob dreamed, and pondered over the valiant knights of old, Polly,
blowing huge soap bubbles, stood in the sunlight, making them larger and
larger, and laughing when they floated away on the soft breeze.

She, too, was dreaming.

The scent of the garden flowers made the air sweet, the yellow
butterflies, at play in the sunshine, fluttered too near a bubble.

It burst with the touch of their soft wings, and they flew away,
frightened that a clear, beautiful globe had chased them, and then so
mysteriously disappeared.

Vivian Osborne watched her, and so still had she been, that Polly had
almost forgotten that she was there.

Again she dipped her pipe into the bowl of suds, and gently she blew,
determined to make a larger bubble than she had yet made.

How beautiful it was! The trees, the blue sky mirrored on its glossy
surface, and--yes, there were the holly-hocks reflected on it, and
curving to fit its globe-like form.

"Oh!" cried Vivian, "see the colors on it, blue, and pink, and green,
and your house, Polly. Don't it look like a tiny castle?'

"M--m," agreed Polly, for the pipe stem between her red lips would not
permit her to talk. When the bubble was as large as she dared to make
it, she swung it from the pipe and they saw it sail away.

Sir Mortimer, who had been watching Polly, scampered off after the
bubble. He often chased a bright, colored ball, and this he thought was
the finest ball he'd ever seen.

It dropped to the grass, and just as puss reached it, it burst. Sir
Mortimer stared at the place where it had vanished.

Polly and Vivian laughed at his surprise. He touched the spot with his
soft paw, then, turning, trotted away, as if to let them see that the
matter was beneath noticing.

"Oh, he's the dearest kitty!" cried Vivian, "blow another bubble, Polly,
and blow it right at him."

Laughing at the thought of surprising Sir Mortimer, Polly blew a fine
bubble, and swung it toward him.

He blinked at it, as it came nearer, and then,--oh, how they laughed, he
began to back away from it.

It overtook him, however, and landed squarely on his upturned nose.

He sneezed in disgust, and rubbed his nose violently with his paw.

"Oh, Mortimer darling, I won't do it again. If you don't like soap
bubbles, you needn't have them," said Polly, picking him up, and
caressing him.

It was evident that he forgave her, for he at once commenced to purr.

When Vivian said that she must go, Polly walked part of the way with her
for company.

"Are you truly going to visit Rose Atherton, soon? Inez Varney said you
were," said Vivian.

"Oh, yes," Polly replied, "I have the invitation, and I'm to go the
first week mama will let me. I may go next week. When I KNOW what day I
can go, I'm to write, and tell Rose, and Rose, with her Aunt, will call
for me at the station."

"Aren't you wild to go"?" asked Vivian.

"Wild?" repeated Polly, "why I can hardly wait for the day. I want to
see the lovely, old house, and all the fine things, but most of all, I
long to see Rose."

"Well, Inez said--no, I guess I won't tell you what Inez said," Vivian
paused.

Did she dislike to repeat Inez' words, or was she waiting for Polly to
coax her to tell them? No one could have guessed.

Polly, thinking that Inez often spoke unpleasantly, turned toward
Vivian, and laying her little hand on her arm, said:

"I guess you'd better not tell what Inez said. I won't feel any
different toward Rose, if you do. I love Rose, and I'm going to visit
her, and I know I'll have a fine time."

"Oh, I'm sure you will," said Vivian, and she said it as if she meant
it.

"And Rose is coming to visit me," said Polly, "and when she comes, most
of the girls will be glad to see her. I wish they ALL would."

"_I_ will," said Vivian, "and you'll see that I am. I'll help to make
her glad that she came."

Some one came running swiftly behind them, and they turned to see who it
might be.

It was Harry Grafton, breathless and excited.

"Oh, what do you think?" he cried. "Dollie Burton got almost run over,
and would have, if it hadn't been for Rob Lindsey. I tell you, he's a
splendid fellow, and my father saw it all, and he says it was the
bravest thing he ever saw done, and he shook hands with Rob, and little
Dollie is only frightened, but she's almost--"

"Why, Harry Grafton! What ARE you saying?" cried Polly.

"What has happened to Dollie?" said Vivian.

At that moment Leslie came running to tell the news.

"Only think!" she cried, "dear little Dollie Burton was almost--"

"That's what I just told them!" declared Harry, "and I'm proud just to
be Rob's friend."

Polly and Vivian were as excited as Harry and his sister were, and for a
few moments the four little playmates talked at the same time, and Polly
at last realized that she was not getting a clear idea of what Rob had
done, or what had happened to wee Dollie Burton.

At last Harry grew calmer, and, with Leslie's help, told the story.

Little Dollie had been playing in her own garden, where surely one might
think that she was safe. A horse from a neighbor's stable had escaped,
and went plunging down the street.

The tiny girl ran down the driveway to look after the flying horse, and
just as Dollie reached the road, the horse turned, and ran wildly back
in the direction whence he had come.

The little girl seemed too frightened to run, and stood still in the
path of the madly racing horse.

Rob Lindsey seeing her danger, sprang out into the street, snatched her
up when the animal was about to trample upon her, and bore her to safety
setting her down once more in her own garden.

"My father was just coming along," said Harry, "and he saw Rob rush out
into the street, and grab Dollie just in time to save her, and he says
Rob stood an awful chance of being run over.

"Rob declares it wasn't much to do. He says he didn't have time to
think, and be scared.

"Father took his hand, and just told him that that was the brave part of
it. He told Rob that a coward would have thought only of himself.

"I tell you, he's a hero, as much as those we read of.

"Mrs. Burton says that she can not say enough to tell how she feels,
when she thinks that little Dollie is alive, and unhurt, and all because
of Rob!"

"There he is now," cried Leslie.

"Oh, everyone run along. I want to speak to him just a minute myself,"
said Polly, and, as usual, they obeyed.

Very shyly Rob approached. He felt that he was receiving too much praise
from everyone, and yet--a word of approval from Princess Polly, ah, that
would be worth much!

"Rob," she said, when the others had walked along, "Rob, don't ever say
again that you'd LIKE to be brave. You ARE brave!"

"She wasn't a nymph, and I wasn't a prince," said the boy, blushing.

"You're as brave as any prince in any fairy tale I ever read," said
Polly, and Rob wondered who would care for greater reward than that.





CHAPTER III

POLLY VISITS ROSE

At last the day came when Polly was to make the little trip that would
begin at the station in her own town, and end at a place, some miles
distant, where, when the train stopped, she would see Rose waiting for
her.

She thought it would seem finer to go quite alone, but Mrs. Sherwood
would not permit that.

"The maid must ride with you, and remain beside you until Rose and her
aunt meet you. Then, she can return on the next train," she had said,
and Polly knew it was useless to object.

And when, at last, the excitement of saying "good-bye" was over, and the
train had already left the little town far behind, Polly settled back in
her seat, and fell to dreaming.

The thought of little Dollie, frightened, but unhurt, of Rob who had so
bravely saved her, of Lena's pride in Rob, flitted through her mind. It
would be a pleasant bit of news to tell Rose.

Then she began to think of Great-Aunt Rose, and to wonder how she
looked.

"Rose has told me in her letter that she's a handsome old lady, but that
isn't like seeing her. How ever SHALL I know her? Oh, of course, I will.
She'll be with Rose."

The maid, who had taken the seat behind Polly, reached forward, and
touched her shoulder.

"You're not getting drowsy, are you, Miss Polly?" she asked, "we're
almost there."

A gay little laugh answered her question.

"How COULD I go to sleep on the way to see Rose?" she asked, "and how
near are we now?"

"The next station, but one," said the maid, "and I'll begin to gather up
the bag, and suit case."

"The next but one!" cried Polly, and she sat up very straight, and
looked from the window. Was the town where Rose lived as pretty as this?

There were great trees that cast long shadows, and here, and there a
glimpse of a river that reflected the blue sky, and the floating clouds.
There were fine houses with spacious lawns, and lovely gardens, and over
all the sunlight playing, and Polly felt that she was riding into an
enchanted country, over which Rose, and Great-Aunt Rose presided.

Polly did not notice what the brakeman said, but the maid did, and she
spoke quickly.

"Come, Miss Polly, here we are, and we'll do well to get off right now
before folks crowd toward the door. By the looks I think everyone means
to stop here!"

It certainly looked as if the maid had spoken truly, for men reached for
parcels that had been stowed in bundle racks, and women commenced to
gather up hand bags, and wraps.

Polly wondered if anyone intended to remain in the car.

She slipped from the seat to the floor, and then, just as they stopped
at the station, she turned and peeped from the window.

"Oh, there she is! There she is!" she cried, "and she's in a fine
carriage with an old lady that looks like a portrait in our drawing
room. Look! Look!"

"We can't stop to look," said the maid, "or we'll be left on the train."

"Oh, we CAN'T stay!" cried Polly, as she hurried toward the door.

She could not imagine anything more dreadful than to be detained on the
train, and ride on, and on, while Rose would find no little friend to
welcome.

She alarmed the maid by rushing down the steps, and across the platform,
and she almost took Great-Aunt Rose's breath away, when she flew at
Rose, and the two little girls embraced laughing, and yes, crying just a
little at the same time.

A slender figure, a huge picturesque hat, and a mass of curling, flaxen
hair, were all that Aunt Rose had seen, but now hand in hand, they were
coming toward the carriage.

"A lovely face, surely," murmured Great-Aunt Rose, "a sweet, and lovely
face."

"This is Princess Polly," said Rose, "and Polly, dear, this is my Great-
Aunt Rose."

Aunt Rose, as she preferred to be called, offered her hand to Polly, who
now stood beside the carriage. "I am so glad to see you, my dear," said
the gentle old voice, and so cordially was it said, that Polly blushed,
and smiled with delight.

She afterward told Lena Lindsey that she felt as if Aunt Rose were her
own aunt, and that she had ALWAYS known her.

The ride to the house was along an avenue shaded with huge, old elm
trees, and when they drew up at the house, Polly looked with round eyes
at its grand, old portico, its great pillars, its terraces, and masses
of lovely flowers.

Rose had said that the house was fine, but that had not told half the
beauty of the grand, old mansion.

They sprang from the carriage, and Rose begged that she might run
upstairs with Polly just a moment before lunch.

"I want to show her my room," she said, and Aunt Rose smiled, and nodded
assent.

"Oh, Polly, Princess Polly!" she said, when they reached the pretty
chamber, "it is so long since we've played together, and now--now I have
you, all to myself. See the queer bed, with the canopy over it. The
first night I came, I was afraid to sleep in it. Now, I like it, and to-
night we'll cuddle close together in it, and draw the curtains."

"Oh, what fun!" cried Polly, "and we can play we're in a castle, and no
one can enter, unless we let them!"

"Oh, yes, and we'll stay awake, oh, ever so long, just to talk," said
Rose.

And when Polly had seen everything in the chamber that Rose wished to
show, they ran down to the parlor to see the portraits.

"I'd like to see them all," said Polly, "but most of all I want to see
the picture of the old gentleman that sometimes smiles at you."

Together they ran down the stairway to the parlor.

How cool it was! Vines that hung upon the piazza shaded the windows, and
flickering sunbeams danced upon the polished floor, and brightened the
color of the Persian rug.

The portraits seemed to look with interest at Polly, and she smiled back
at them, and nodded as she passed them.

"They look like real people," she said, "and it doesn't seem polite to
pass them without nodding."

"I know it," agreed Rose, "and I nod and smile at them, but the picture
at the end of the room smiles more than the others do. Come, and see
him."

Together they stood looking at the little old gentleman.

Polly admired his flowered satin waistcoat, his powdered wig, and rosy
cheeks, but most of all she liked his merry, twinkling eyes.

"He DOES smile," said Polly.

"Yes, he does," agreed Rose, "but now, just for a moment, frown, and
then he doesn't SEEM to smile."

It was an odd sight, the two merry little faces puckered into an attempt
at a frown, and the old portrait looking down at them, as if in surprise
that their smiles had vanished.

"Now, let's both smile together!" cried Rose.

Immediately two pairs of merry eyes looked up at him, and two red mouths
smiled, and showed rows of pearly teeth.

"There!" said Polly, "he ALMOST laughed, and that dimple in his chin
looked DIMPLER than before."

"That's what I told you," said Rose, "and sometimes, when I'm lonesome,
he's a comfort."

At lunch Aunt Rose talked much with Polly, and gentle Aunt Lois seemed
charmed with the little guest.

When lunch was over, Aunt Rose left the little playmates to amuse
themselves, because she felt sure that Polly must have a budget of news
to tell, and they certainly would enjoy their bit of gossip better, if
no older person listened.

They spent the afternoon in the garden, walking along, their arms about
each other's waists.

Later they would care for games, but this first day was delightful just
to talk together.

They passed a little arbor, and Polly stopped to admire it.

Just as she looked up at the vine that blossomed on its roof, a strange
little face peeped over the hedge, then dodged out of sight.

"Who was that?" Polly asked.

"Who? Where?"

"Just behind the hedge," whispered Polly.

Rose looked, and in an opening at the lower part of the hedge she saw a
bit of a dark gray frock.

"Oh, it's Evangeline Longfellow Jenks, the little girl that's going to
be a poet," whispered Rose.

"But you said her poetry was funny," said Polly, as softly as Rose had
spoken.

"It IS" declared Rose, "but she keeps writing it all the time."

Just then Evangeline's round, white face again appeared above the hedge,
and at that moment Aunt Rose came out on the porch.

"Come over here, Evangeline," she said kindly, "and meet our little
guest."

"I'm not dressed up," said the voice behind the hedge, "but I've just
made a poem, and I can read it from here!"

Without waiting to be urged, and in a thin, high-pitched voice, she read
these lines, which she earnestly believed were beautiful:

"Oh, the sun is shining,
And the moon is near by;
I can't see the moon,
But it's in the sky-
Somewhere.

"I need no sun or moon;
I'll be a poet soon.
I write every day
Some kind of a lay-
Somewhere."

"What DOES she mean?" whispered Polly.

"I don't think it means ANYTHING, but she enjoys making up verses
whether they mean anything or not," Rose whispered in reply.

Polly was anxious to see what the little girl looked like who felt that
she was to be a poet, but Evangeline Longfellow Jenks did not intend to
be seen in an ordinary frock.

She felt that her position as a future poet demanded that she be finely
dressed.

On this especial morning she had been doing a very unpoetic thing--she
had been trying to drink from the hose!

Her skirts were completely soaked, and her shoes were covered with mud
that the dripping hose had splashed up from the garden bed.

"A person like ME ought not to drink from a horrid old hose. My mama
read about some one, I've forgotten who, who drank from a crystal
chalice. I don't know what that is, but it sounds grand, and I wish I
had one," murmured the small girl behind the hedge.

Aunt Rose repeated her invitation, but the poetic child seldom thought
it necessary to be polite, and never replied unless she chose to. This
time she remained silent, and Aunt Rose, with an odd little smile
returned to the house.

Then a strange thing happened.

Another face peeped over the hedge, but this time it was a saucy one,
with bright, brown eyes that fairly danced with merriment.

"Reg'lar ninny, ain't she?" he asked, with a chuckle.

"Oh, Lester, you MUSTN'T!" cried Rose.

"Yes, I must!" said the boy. "She sneaked off into the house when you
weren't looking, so she can't hear me, and when she's too far off to
hear, I have to call her some kind of a horrid name, 'cause it helps me
some!"

"But she's your own cousin, and you oughtn't, you know. If it isn't
wicked, it MUST be naughty to call her a ninny," said Rose.

"I wish she wasn't my cousin, I ain't fond of her," said the boy, with a
frown on his handsome face.

"She did a mean thing this morning, and I'll get even with her," he
continued, "and when she wrote one of her everlasting old poems about
me, it was more than I could stand. Just read it and I guess you won't
blame me."

He thrust a crumpled bit of paper over the hedge.

Rose ran to the hedge, and took the paper. She was curious to know what
kind of a poem Lester had inspired.

Who could blame her that she laughed when she read the ridiculous lines?

"Lester's a boy, but he's not brave;
The cat scratched him, and he cried.
He's not the kind of a boy I like
Although I've often tried.

His eyes are brown, but I don't care;
His freckles are yellow, and so is his hair.
He teases, so he has no heart,
And he runs after the old ice-cart."

"Could a fellow stand THAT? said Lester, his cheeks very red.

"It wasn't nice," said Rose, "and Lester, wait a moment," as the boy
turned to go.

"This is Polly Sherwood, my best friend. Polly, this is Lester Jenks.
He's a nice boy, only he's provoked this morning."

Polly offered her little hand over the hedge, and Lester blushed, and
took it.

"Are you the little princess?" he asked bluntly.

"Just a make-believe one," said Polly.

"We all call her 'Princess Polly' at home," Rose explained.

"You look right to be called that anywhere," said Lester, and it was
Polly's turn to blush.

"I'd like to come over some day," he said.

"Come NOW," said Rose.

"I wish I could, but I can't," said the boy. "I've an errand to do for
my aunt, and I ought to go now. I'll come some other day, perhaps to-
morrow. I've some money, and I'd like to treat."

He looked admiringly at Polly, and Rose was delighted.

"He's ever so much fun," she said, when Lester had gone to do the errand
that he had spoken of.

"He lives the next house to Evangeline," she continued, "and he's
awfully tired of her poetry."

Polly did not wonder at that.

"And I DO hope, when he comes, Evangeline won't come with him," said
Rose.

"So do I," agreed Polly, "only it may be that she's nice SOMETIMES."

Rose came closer, and looking straight into Polly's blue eyes, she said:

"She brings her old poetry book EVERY time!"

"Oh, dear, can't she leave it at home?" said Polly.

"She WON'T," said Rose, "and she's either writing in it, or reading it
all the time, so there's not a minute for play."

"Doesn't she care for 'Tag' or 'Hide-and-Seek?'" questioned Polly.

"She doesn't EVER like anything but that poetry," declared Rose.

"Oh, dear," sighed Polly, for she felt that if Evangeline were to come
often, she would spoil much of the visit that, without her, would be so
pleasant.

"We'll be out sometimes," said Rose, "for Aunt Rose will take us about,
and we're to go to the studio some day when Aunt Lois goes. I've been
there, and the pictures are lovely, and some days we shall drive, and
then if she comes she won't find us."

"If she'll come on the days that we're OUT, and stay away the days that
we're at home, it will be just FINE!"

"Oh, Rose, I believed it's naughty, but I would be glad if it happened,
just HAPPENED that way," Polly said.





CHAPTER IV

THE VILLAGE NUISANCE

At Sherwood Hall Polly was greatly missed, and her playmates felt less
interest in their games now that she was not with them.

In all the village there was no one so lonely as Aunt Judith. She missed
the merry chatter of happy, cheery Rose. Bright, and merry she had been,
even although there were many things that she longed for, and could not
have, most of all, some one to love her.

Now, as Aunt Judith busied herself about the cottage, or out in the tiny
garden, she realized how much the child's hands had helped.

"She used to dust for me," she would say to herself, as she moved about
the tiny sitting room, putting it in order.

"She always fed the chickens," she murmured, one morning, on her way out
to the coop.

She stooped to open the door, when a shrill voice shouted at her.

"Look out! Look out! The ol' rooster's mad!"

Aunt Judith was startled, and Gyp was delighted.

"Why were you meddling with the hens?" she asked, in quick wrath.

"Don't hurt 'em to be watched, does it?" was the saucy answer.

Aunt Judith looked at the imp-like figure astride the fence.

"You're a nuisance!" she cried, "I wish the town was rid of you!" "Ding-
te-ding-te-dingle-te-ding!" sang Gyp, in an almost ear-splitting solo.

"Ding-te-ding--I tell ye what, if ye put jest the tip of yer finger
between them slats, that 'ere ol' rooster 'll bite it almost off'n yer!"
he remarked, "I know, 'cause I TRIED it."

"You keep your fingers away from the coop, and yourself out of my yard,"
cried Aunt Judith, "or I'll have you arrested."

"Wow!" shrieked Gyp, and slipping from the fence, he ran to the woods,
lest Aunt Judith should immediately put her threat into effect.

The one, and only thing that Gyp feared was a policeman.

A wild little ragamuffin, living in an old hut that was home only in
name, with parents as ignorant as himself, he was viewed with contempt
by every child in the town, and feared by them, as well.

There was nothing that he dared not do--if no policeman were in sight.

It was well known by everyone that when Gyp once became interested in
anything, he would not let it alone until something occurred that he
thought more attractive.

Aunt Judith, shading her eyes with her hand, waited until she felt sure
that Gyp did not intend to return. Then locking the door, and closing
the windows, she made her way down the avenue toward the parsonage.

She felt unusually lonely, and the parson's wife was always glad to see
her.

The walk was a long one, and when Aunt Judith had reached the parsonage,
she paused for a moment to enjoy the light breeze before opening the
little gate. "I saw you coming," said a pleasant voice, "and I guess you
felt the heat on the way. Come in, and sit down under the big maple
trees. It's cooler than it is in the house."

As she spoke, the parson's wife took Aunt Judith's arm, and led her to a
rustic seat, and seating herself beside her, commenced to talk of bits
of parish news.

Aunt Judith's mind was far away with Rose, and her answers became more,
and more wide of the mark.

"I think the boys of the choir sing BEAUTIFULLY," chirped the little
woman, "but they really should have new cotta's, but the society feels
that it really can't afford it."

"Yes'm," said Aunt Judith.

"And there are some that think we ought to have an organist. Mrs.
Bingley volunteers to play until we're able to hire some one, but she
isn't much of a player. She says she can't play any music unless it's
written in ONE flat. She says it's the only key she knows. She says two
flats make her uneasy, but THREE flats makes her simply WILD!"

"Well, if I DON'T let them out of the coop they'll be sick, and if I DO
let them out, they're likely to get lost."

The parson's wife stared uneasily at Aunt Judith. Then thinking that she
must have been needlessly startled, she again spoke.

"As I said before, what makes her WILD is three flats," she said.

"But the chicken-coop is ALL slats," said Aunt Judith, "what DO you mean
by THREE?"

"Don't you feel well?" the little woman asked anxiously, leaning toward
Aunt Judith, and looking up into her shrewd face.

"Why, yes," Aunt Judith replied, "only I'm lonesome without Rose, and
some anxious about the hens."

A sigh of relief escaped the other woman's lips, but she did not
explain.

"She's so worried about her own affairs that she simply didn't notice
what I was talking about," she thought.

Realizing that Aunt Judith's mind was so full of her own interests that,
for the time, she could think of nothing else, she dropped church
matters, and asked when she had heard from Rose.

And while in the cool shade of the large trees, they talked of the tiny
cottage, its garden, the chickens, and most of all, Rose, matters near
the hen-coop were becoming rather lively.

Aunt Judith watching to see if Gyp intended to return, did not dream
that he was watching her.

He saw her enter the cottage, and waited until she left the house to
saunter down the avenue.

Then he ran across the little open field from the wood, and, crouching
behind the back fence, near the coop, again waited until he felt sure
that she was not simply in the house of some neighbor, but, instead, had
gone to the "square."

Then springing over the fence like a monkey, he told a few facts to the
old rooster.

"Ye're a mean ol' thing!" he cried, "jest a mean ol' critter ter bite a
feller's finger like ye did mine. I'll pay yer fer what ye done! Look at
this, an' see how ye like it!"

At that moment, and to the utter astonishment of the rooster, and his
family, Gyp sprang up and down in a series of wild jumps, shouting, and
yelling to the limit of his strength.

"Yow-ow! Hoope-high-jinks!" shrieked Gyp, his wiry arms, and legs flying
in more directions than seemed possible, his shoes, that were many sizes
too large for him, clattering on the hard-trodden earth of the hen-yard.

"How-re-ow-re-owl!" he roared, dodging this way, and that, in order to
keep directly in front of the frightened rooster.

The rooster ducked, and dodged in vain, for Gyp managed to do his
outrageous dance exactly in front of him, wherever he might be.

The hens kept up a perpetual squawking, and ran wildly about, while the
downy chicks huddled in fear under the huge leaves of a burdock plant,
and uttered little frightened peeps that, however, were unheard in the
din that Gyp and the hens created.

Then suddenly something happened.

With a wild whoop, and an extra high jump, he lost his balance, and fell
against the little gate.

He was not hurt, but he was surprised, and, for a moment, sat absolutely
still, while the hens, led by the big rooster, ran over him, and out
into the field beyond.

"I s'pose she'll say I let 'em out. I DID, an' I DIDN'T!" he said with a
chuckle.

"Long's they're out, they might as well have a good run for once," he
cried, and shouting "Shoo! Shoo!" and brandishing his arms, he rushed
after them.

When he had tired of chasing the hens, he hurried away to the other end
of the avenue, with the bright idea of learning if there might be a
chance for mischief there.

A fine kite disappeared from Harry Grafton's lawn, a ball that Rob
Lindsey had been playing with could not be found, while at Sherwood Hall
the lawn mower was searched for, and discovered in the brook.

Old Martin dragged it forth, remarking as he did so:

"It looks like the work of old Nick, or that wild lad, Gyp."

No one had seen Gyp around the place, but, for the matter of that, no
one had seen him flying a kite, or playing with a ball.

The articles had disappeared, however, and, as usual, everyone thought
Gyp the culprit.

"It took work, and time to make that kite," said Harry, "I wouldn't
think any one would be mean enough to take it."

"Unless it was Gyp," said Rob, "he's mean enough for anything, and I
wouldn't wonder if the same chap that went off with your kite, took my
ball along at the same time."

Both boys were urged to hunt carefully before accusing any one, but
thorough search failed to bring forth either kite or ball.

Then Leslie missed a book that she had left on the piazza, and Dollie
Burton lost her loviest doll.

Poor little Dollie! She could not be comforted, and promises of a new
doll caused a fresh outburst of tears. It wouldn't be the same one that
she had loved so, and she refused to have a new one until later, when
her grief would be less fresh.

It was in vain that Blanche told her that a new doll would be as dear as
the old one, the little girl refused to play, and her cherub face looked
very sad, the dimples failing to show, because the smiles would not
appear.

"That bad boy, Gyp, has took it," she wailed.

"Oh, Dollie, he might take a kite, or a ball from Harry, and Rob, but he
wouldn't want a doll! Just think! What would HE do with a doll?"

"He's got little sisters, you said he had," Dollie replied, "p'raps he
stole it for them. I wouldn't care if he'd just took my old one, but he
was a bad boy to take my best one. I'll tell him so! You'll see!"

It was a baby's threat, and Blanche did not dream that her wee sister
would do anything of the sort.

Dollie had a good memory, however, and Gyp sometimes passed the house.

She was as determined as any older child might have been, to give Gyp
the scolding that she thought he deserved.

Oddly enough, he passed the house the next morning.

His restless black eyes were looking furtively about as if in search of
something that he might snatch. Little Dollie, for the moment, had
forgotten the lost doll.

With a long, flowering branch in her hand, she was walking up and down
the driveway, looking more like a doll than anything else, in her dainty
frock, her white socks, and bronze slippers.

"Sing a song o' sixpence, A pocket full of rye,--"

"Oh, YOU, YOU--wait for me!" In her wrath, the wee girl had forgotten
his name.

Gyp stood still, and waited, open mouthed, while Dollie ran toward him.

He thought her the loveliest thing he had ever seen, and wondered that
she wished to speak to him.

"You naughty, BAD boy!" she cried, striking at him with the flowering
branch. "Naughty, BAD boy! You bring it back to me!"

Again the flowers hit him, but they gave nothing worse than a love pat.

"What'll I bring ye?" he asked awkwardly, "I ain't got anything you'd
want. Ye look like them fairies I've read 'bout."

[Illustration with caption: "Ye've lost yer dolly, hev ye?"]

"DIDN'T you take my best doll?" she asked, her anger gone, and her red
lips trembling.

Two big tears ran down the pink cheeks.

Then the strangest thing happened. Gyp, the imp, the one who apparently
had no feeling, stooped, and peeping into the lovely little face, spoke
very gently:

"Ye've lost yer dolly, hev ye? I ain't seen it, but I'll try ter find it
for yer."

"Oh, WILL you?" she cried, smiling through her tears, "then I'm sorry I
whipped you with this branch, and come! Let's bofe of us hunt together."

She offered him her little hand, and very carefully he took it.

He walked as if on air. Who else had ever offered him a hand? Who had
ever spoken kindly? This lovely little girl had smiled at him, and had
wished to be with him while he searched.

How he worked!

Like a little wild creature he crawled under shrubs, and, using his
fingers like claws, tugged at grass, and twigs, as if his only interest
were to find the doll.

"Was yer near the brook when ye was playin' with it?" asked Gyp.

"Oh, oh, I WAS, but I'd forgotten it. Didn't anyone hunt there! Let's
go, quick, maybe we'll find her!"

She gave him a sunny smile, and in delight, he again took the wee hand
she offered him, and together the ragged boy, and the wee, dainty girl
hurried away to the brook.

It was a bit of the same brook that ran through the garden at Sherwood
Hall.

Just as they reached the brook something backed up from the water's
edge.

"Oh, Beauty! Beauty! What ARE you doing?" cried Dollie.

The puppy growled, and continued dragging something up the little bank.

"Here Mr. Puppy! Gim me that!" cried Gyp.

"Why, it's my lovely Aurora!" cried Dollie, dancing wildly about.

Gyp, fearless because the little dog was only a pup, tugged at the body
of the doll, while Beauty held firmly to its pink skirt.

The muslin frock gave way under the strain, and the puppy, with a bit of
the muslin in his mouth, rolled over on the grass, while Gyp, doubting
if the bedraggled doll would be accepted, held it out, dripping, for
Dollie to look at.

"IS it the doll what ye lost?" he asked.

"Oh, yes; yes it is," cried Dollie, "and I love her just as much as I
did before she was drownded!"

Regardless of her own dainty frock, she hugged the dripping doll to her
breast.

"You're a GOOD boy to help me," she said, "I said I was sorry I hit you,
and I am. I just WISH I hadn't."

"I'd rather ye'd hit me, than any other person touch me," Gyp muttered,
and then, for fear that someone at the house might SEND him off, he
turned, and ran away. Little Dollie looked after him.

"I wonder if he heard me SAY he was good," she whispered.

Then with soft eyes she looked at the vanishing figure.

"He 'most always ISN'T good, but this time he was," she said.

Beauty, like most little dogs, had a habit of running off with any
article that he could snatch, and hiding it.

Tiring of the doll he had dropped it in the brook, and then, when he
happened to remember it, had dragged it forth, intending, doubtless, to
give it another good shaking.





CHAPTER V

THE LITTLE GREEN DOOR

Dear little Dollie Burton's warm, loving heart had been touched, and she
eagerly told everyone how Gyp had helped to find her dear Aurora.

"You see, Rob," she said, one day, "he's SOME naughty, but he ISN'T all
naughty. Mama always says: 'Wait 'fore you 'cuse anyone,' but I didn't
wait. I just 'cused him as hard as I could, and NOW I'm sorry."

"Oh, you're a trump, Dollie," said Rob.

"Is a 'trump' a nice thing to be?" questioned the wee girl.

"The best thing in the world," Rob declared laughing.

"Well, I didn't know," the little girl replied, "'cause when Nora's
cleaning closets, and finds old things, mama says: 'Take that trumpery
out to the waste barrel,' and you say trump isn't same as trumpery."

"Guess not! Dollie, you're the best little girl I know," said Rob, to
which Dollie replied: "And you're the bestest boy _I_ know."

The news flew through the neighborhood that Gyp had found the doll.

"Well, that's one decent thing he did," said Rob Lindsey, "and I s'pose
there's just a chance that he didn't take my ball, or your kite, but who
else would do it?"

"Sure enough," said Harry Grafton, "who else would?"

Vivian and Blanche, with Lena Lindsey, were walking with their arms
about each other's waists. It was really too warm to play, but it was
never too warm to talk.

"Just think," said Vivian, "when Polly is here, we play no matter how
hot it is."

"Yes, except when we coax her to tell us some stories," said Lena.
"She's fun to play with, because when we're tired of the old games, she
can always make up a new one," said Vivian.

And while Polly's friends were talking lovingly of her, she had been
telling Rose many pleasant things of the playmates that both so well
knew.

It was only for a moment that they talked of their little friends,
however, because both were anticipating a trip to an artist's studio,
where they would see beautiful pictures, and where Aunt Lois was to sit
for her portrait.

Aunt Rose had gone to spend the day with a friend, and Aunt Lois,
thinking it hardly kind to leave the two little girls at home, had
decided to take them with her.

"He's a fine artist, and one who has painted portraits of many
distinguished people. I hardly know if he is greatly interested in
children, but he surely will be willing that you should enjoy his
pictures, if you make no noise, and do not talk to disturb him," she had
said.

"Oh, if we may see the pictures, we'll promise not to make the least bit
of noise," said Rose, speaking very loudly that Aunt Lois, who was quite
deaf, might hear.

"Guess what he looks like," said Rose, as they walked along beside Aunt
Lois.

"Oh, I think he will be tall, and slender, with dark eyes, and wavy
hair, and he'll bow like this, when he lets us in," Polly said, pausing
on the sidewalk to make a very low bow.

"I don't believe he'll bow like that," said Rose, "because he's such a
GREAT artist. He'll feel pretty big. I guess he's not very light, or
very dark, but I think he'll be tall and SOME stout. Don't you know how
the lawyer that lives on our street looks? Just as if he owned all the
houses on the avenue. _I_ think he'll give us a teenty little bow like
this," and she gave a jerky little nod, "but I think he'll be quite nice
to us after we are in."

"This way," said Aunt Lois, and they crossed the street, and stopped
before a quaint looking building. The massive oak door boasted a huge
knocker, in the form of a frowning lion's head that held a huge brass
ring.

Aunt Lois lifted the ring, and let it fall clattering against the door.

The little girls wondered if the artist would be angry. COULD that
knocker have made less noise?

Aunt Lois was so very deaf that she did not realize what a din she had
made, and smiled serenely as she stood waiting.

Polly was just wondering if the artist were too offended to respond,
when the door opened, and a tall, sturdy man, with his palette and
brushes in his hand, welcomed them.

"Ah, you have come for your sitting, and you are prompt," he said.

"I endeavored to be on time," said Aunt Lois, "and, because my sister is
away I've brought Rose and our little guest with me. I can promise that
they will not in any way disturb you. Rose has often been here with me,
but this is her little friend, Polly Sherwood."

Mr. Arthur Kirtland welcomed her very graciously, and urged her to
enjoy, with Rose, the pictures that hung upon the studio walls, stood
upon easels, and around the room.

"We'll walk about very softly, and may we go into the little room where
the lovely children are, Mr. Kirtland?" Rose asked.

"Oh, surely," he answered quickly, "you may like the child studies
best."

He meant what he said, and he also thought that if they were pleased
with the pictures in the little room that led from the main studio, it
would be quite as well.

True, a large screen kept both artist and sitter apart from the rest of
the studio, but Arthur Kirtland liked to be wholly alone, and
undisturbed while painting a portrait, and he was very glad when the
children tired of the pictures in the large studio, and went out into
the small room.

"He didn't look like what you guessed, did he?" said Rose, when together
they seated themselves in the little room.

"No, not a bit, and the reason you could guess what he was like was
because you'd seen him," said Polly, "and when he made the funny little
bow just as you did, I almost laughed."

"I don't wonder he struts when he walks. Just think who he's painted!
Two dukes, one is that man with the red hair, and the eyes that laugh at
you. It's out in the big room," said Rose, "don't you remember it?"

"Yes, but I like the big lady in velvet, and lace, that hangs next to
him," said Polly.

"That's his wife, Mr. Kirtland said so," said Rose.

"Oh, would you think a lovely lady like that would marry a man with red
hair?" said Polly.

"P'raps she liked red hair," Rose said, "and Polly, did you ever see
anything so cunning as that picture of a little girl with her hands full
of roses?"

Polly thought the picture charming, and together they walked around the
little room enjoying flower studies, sketches, and finished pictures of
children, until Polly espied a small door.

"Oh, see that funny little door!" she whispered, "where does that lead
to? Is it a closet door, do you suppose?"

"Oh, no, that's not a closet," Rose replied, "I've often seen it open.
Just outside it is a wee little garden just big enough to hold some fine
holly-hocks. I'll show you. 'Most always the door is open."

"Open it softly. He wouldn't like it if we made a noise," whispered
Polly.

Rose turned the latch very gently, and opened the door a few inches. A
flood of golden sunlight swept in, and just outside the tall holly-hocks
in gorgeous coloring swayed in the soft breeze.

"Hear them rustle just as if they were paper flowers," whispered Polly.
"Oh, it's lovely out there."

"Let's go out just a little way."

"All right," agreed Rose, "come out, and I'll shut the door," and Polly
followed her out into the sunlight.

"Oh, you didn't latch the door," said Polly.

"Oh, dear! I meant to," said Rose, "but it isn't MUCH open. If I go
back, and pull it real hard to make it latch it'll make a noise, and Mr.
Kirtland won't like it. We won't stay out long, so it doesn't matter."

"When we DO go back, let's sit on that little sofa in the corner. That's
a cosy place."

"All right," agreed Rose, and together they walked up and down the
little path that led from the tiny, side door to the street.

"The studio is grand, and the people he's painted look as if they could
speak, if they chose," said Polly, "but somehow it made me feel queer to
see them all looking at me."

"And once I peeped over my shoulder and that man in the hunting costume
had his eyes right on me," said Rose, "and I turned my head away. When I
turned again, he looked as if he'd speak, and if he DID, I just know
he'd say: 'I'm still looking at you, Rose Atherton; you can't dodge
ME!'"

"I do truly love the pictures," Polly said, "but I never saw so many all
at once, and I didn't feel queer about them, until we'd been with them
quite a while. I guess we'd feel different if somebody had been talking.
It was still and cool in there, and did you notice? The corners in the
little room were shady and almost dark."

"He doesn't speak, after he really begins to paint," said Rose. "He
says: 'Turn a bit this way Miss Lois. No, not quite so much, that's it.
Now hold that pose, please,' and then he doesn't speak again until he
stops painting.

"At first he said Aunt Lois could rest often, but she doesn't care to.
She says it's easy to sit in the big carved chair. I'd be wild to sit
still so long!"

"Hello!" a merry voice shouted, and they turned toward the street.

It was Lester Jenks. He was beckoning to them, and they ran out to the
sidewalk.

"What ye' doing here?" he asked.

"Aunt Lois is having her portrait painted, and we came with her, and
we're just waiting 'til she's ready to go home."

"Oh, then I'll tell you what let's do. Let's have some ice cream! I said
I'd treat some day, and I know a nice place. Come!" urged the boy, but
they hesitated.

"Don't you want to?" he asked.

"Oh, yes!" they cried, "but we ought to ask Aunt Lois," said Rose, "and
we can't. Mr. Kirtland is painting, and he hasn't said a single word for
ever so long. It's so still in there that it makes you feel as if you
ALMOST mustn't breathe. I wouldn't dare to run right in and ask Aunt
Lois!"

"Why, you don't have to. We'll just skip over to the ice cream parlor,
and we'll be back long before he's done painting. Come along! If you
don't, I'll think you don't want to, and that isn't nice when I've asked
you," said Lester. "Oh, dear, it isn't polite to let him think that when
I'm wild to go, and I just KNOW Polly is," thought Rose.

"Are you SURE it won't take us long to go, and get back?" Polly asked.

"Oh, it's just a step!" said Lester.

"There's a nice little old lady keeps the place, and she gives you awful
big ice creams for five cents. You have 'em on a marble table in her
little parlor. There's a green carpet on the floor, and the room is
awful cool. Oh, come on! I wish you would."

The invitation was not elegantly expressed, but it certainly was
CORDIAL.

"I guess we'll have to go," said Rose, "would you, Polly?"

"I'd like to," was the reply.

"Then come!" said Lester, "we'll be there and back here before anyone
would guess you'd been even outside that door."

They waited for no more urging, and together the three little friends
ran across the street, through a side street, and down a broad avenue.

"It's just a little farther down this way," said Lester.

"Why it's ever so far from the studio, Lester Jenks, and you SAID we'd
just skip to it," said Rose, breathlessly.

"Well, aren't we skipping?" he said with a laugh, "we run a few steps,
and then you and Polly skip along a little way, and then you run again."

Rose was just wondering if they ought to turn back without the little
treat, when Lester caught her hand, saying:

"Here we are," and he boldly opened the door.

A tiny bell tinkled as the door closed behind them, and a little, white
haired old lady came out to greet them.

"We want some ice cream, these ladies and me," said Lester, trying to
look as tall as possible, and hoping that she did not notice that he was
wearing knee breeches. He thought that no one would dream that he was a
small boy if only they could not see those knee breeches that he so
heartily despised.

The old lady served the cream in dainty glasses, and heaped it high in a
tiny pile that really amounted to little, but looked great--for five
cents.

"How cool and dark it is in here," said Rose.

"It is a lovely place to eat ice cream in," said Polly.

The strawberry ice cream was very, very pink, and they thought it
delicious.

"Do you think we've been gone long, YET, Lester?" questioned Rose.

"Of course not," said Lester, but Rose wished that he would eat his
cream a little faster.

When the tiny glasses were quite empty Lester bought a package of candy
for his friends, and having paid for the treat, opened the door for them
to pass out onto the sidewalk.

"Why it looks different," said Polly, "is it cloudy, since we went in
there?" But the sky showed no clouds. Then where had the bright sunlight
gone?

"Oh, I b'lieve it's late!" cried Rose, "do you s'pose it is? It was long
after lunch when we started for the studio, oh, ever so long after. We
staid there looking at the pictures for hours, I guess, and then we came
with you, Lester."

"It CAN'T be late," the boy replied, although he truly believed that it
was.

"We could go back a shorter way than the one we came. Shall we?" he
asked.

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried Rose, "we must get there before Aunt Lois is ready
to go. If Mr. Kirtland is still painting we can go in softly by the
little side door, and wait until it is time to go."

Lester led the way, and the three children ran down one street, and up
another, until at last they paused for breath.

"This short way seems longer than the way we came!" ventured Polly.

"We AREN'T lost, are we?" cried Rose.

"I turned into the wrong street when we started," admitted Lester, "but
it's only a little way now."

"Then let's hurry just that little way," said Rose.

She clasped Polly's hand, and again they ran on, and after a few
moments, Lester cried: "There it is!"

Sure enough! There was the clump of holly-hocks, and close beside it,
the little green door.





CHAPTER VI

AT THE STUDIO

"Good-bye, good-bye!" they cried to Lester, "and thank you, oh thank
you, but we must hurry!"

Lester waved his cap to them, and then raced down the avenue.

Then, treading softly, they ran along the little path, past the holly-
hocks, and--the little green door was closed.

"Oh, Rose!" gasped Polly, but Rose had grasped the knob, and found that
while the door looked to be closed, it had only been swung to with the
breeze.

She pushed it open, and noiselessly they entered.

Softly they crept across the floor, Polly clinging to Rose's hand, and
when they had reached the little divan, they sat down, and for a moment,
neither spoke.

They still clasped hands, and when Polly looked toward the doorway that
led into the large studio, Rose looked that way too.

From where they sat, they could not see either the painter or his model.

Polly leaned toward Rose.

"Doesn't he EVER talk when he's painting?" she whispered.

Rose shook her head.

"I 'most always bring a book with me, and while Aunt Lois is posing, I
read stories," she whispered in reply.

Then for a time neither spoke.

The old clock out in that other room ticked to prove that all was not
silent, but it made the waiting children more lonely.

They could not see its face, but after what seemed a long time, it
chimed a single note.

"Oh, dear! That's only a half hour. I thought it was going to strike,"
whispered Rose, "and then we'd have known what time it was."

"Don't you dare to go in there, just a little way, and peep at the
clock? It's just around the corner," whispered Polly.

"I promised we wouldn't disturb him while he was painting," whispered
Rose, "but I do b'lieve I'll have to soon. I'm just wild to see if he's
beginning to put away his paints."

"There isn't the least sound as if he was putting away ANYTHING" said
Polly.

"I'll just HAVE to look," said Rose, whispering as softly as before.
"We're awfully tired waiting, and keeping so still. It will help some to
know what time it is, and if he sees me looking at the clock, perhaps
he'll say he's 'MOST ready to stop painting."

She slipped from the divan, and tip-toed to the doorway, pushed the
heavy hanging aside just enough to permit her to pass through. The
portiere dropped heavily behind her, and Polly listened--listened.

"Oh, I hope he won't be angry. He ought not to after we've waited so
long, but he's a great artist, and I s'pose Rose is disturbing him. I
hope he won't scold. I didn't really tell her to go in and look at the
clock, but I didn't tell her NOT to," thought Polly

"Why DOESN'T she come back?" she whispered, a second after, when, as if
in answer, the portiere was pushed aside, and Rose, a very frightened
little Rose, hurried to Polly, her eyes startled, and her cheeks pale.

"He isn't there! Aunt Lois isn't there! We're alone in this studio, and
I'd rather be alone ANYWHERE than here!" she cried, and they shuddered


 


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