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Princess Polly's Playmates by Amy Brooks

Part 2 out of 3

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when the vacant rooms echoed her voice.

"But we don't have to STAY here!" cried Polly, "come! It's getting late,
and we must hurry, or we'll be afraid to go down the streets alone."

"We CAN'T go!" cried Rose, "that's just the horrid part of it!"

"WHY can't we?"

As she asked the question Polly sprang to her feet, and clasping Rose's
hand, drew her toward the door.

"It's no use, Polly," said Rose, "We CAN'T go home, because I don't know
the way!"

Polly stared at her for a second in surprise.

"Why you've been here before with your Aunt Lois," she said.

"I know I have," Rose replied, "but I haven't noticed just how we came.
It's a long walk, and don't you remember how many different streets we
turned into, before we got here? I tell you truly, Polly, I don't know
the FIRST THING about going home!"

"Then we must wait here 'til they come for us," said Polly, "Oh hark!
What was that?"

Together they sank upon the little divan, and now they spoke only in

"I don't know what the noise was, but it was in that other room. When I
had looked at the clock, and I turned to come back, I HAD to pass the
big suit of armor. Polly, I knew there wasn't anyone in it, but all the
same I thought its eyeholes looked at me!"

"Oh--o--o! Didn't that sound as if his iron glove rattled against his
shield?" was Polly's startled whisper.

"It's that, or--he's--WALKING!" gasped Rose.

The two terrified children clung to each other. They stared toward the
large doorway, and their breath came faster.

Did the portiere sway?

No, it hung straight from its pole, but beyond, in that other room; was
anyone moving about in there?

They hardly dared breathe.

At last Rose whispered, turning that her words might reach Polly's ear.

"It's still in there now," she said, "and don't you think--"

She did not finish the question, for, at that moment, something creaked,
and slipped to the floor, rolling evidently until it must have met
another object that stopped it.

"There wasn't a single sound here when it was bright daylight, and Mr.
Kirtland was busy painting. Why DO the things in his studio ACT so when
he's away?" said Polly.

"It's as if they knew we were here, and just wanted to scare us,"
whispered Rose.

Frightened, hungry, weary, and nervously staring into that shadowy
doorway, they waited--waited hoping that someone might come before
anything happened to make their terror greater.

At the great house on the avenue, there was wild excitement. At the end
of the sitting, Aunt Lois had gone to the little room, expecting to find
two tired children who would be eager to go home. The sitting had been
longer than usual, and she would reward them for their patience by
stopping at the confectioner's on the way home and purchasing some fine
candy for them.

"I am to come to you again on Thursday," she said. "Very well, I will
try to be prompt. The children must be tired of waiting. If you are
willing, I'll bid you 'Good afternoon' here, and go out by the side door
with them."

Without waiting for him to reply, she had hastened to the smaller room,
only to find that it was empty.

She was not at all frightened.

Her first thought was that the long afternoon had been tedious, and they
had gone home.

"I shall find them on the piazza waiting for me," she said. "Rose would
have asked if she might go, but I had told her not to interrupt while he
was painting."

Gentle Aunt Lois had no thought of being angry. Instead, she was sorry
that the hours had dragged so heavily for Rose and Polly.

She purchased two fine boxes of candy, smiling as she walked along with
her parcel, that was to be a surprise.

She walked slowly because she was very tired. She wondered that Rose did
not run to greet her.

"Where are the children?" she asked, as the maid opened the door.

"Sure, they've not been home since they went out with you," said the

Aunt Lois sank on the great hall chair, and the frightened maid thought
that she was ill.

"Are ye faint, mum?" she asked, "an' will I be gettin' ye a glass o'

"Call the coachman," said Aunt Lois.

"Sure, I don't want to be bold with advice, but I'd not like ter see ye
goin' out fer a ride feelin' like ye do now. I'd think--"

"GET the coachman!" said Aunt Lois, and the girl, now thoroughly
frightened, did as she was bid.

Nora ran at top speed to the stable, crying, as she reached the door:

"Oh, John, John! Miss Lois is come home, an' she's talkin' o' goin'
right out ter ride, an' her sick, an' she wants ye ter come to her in
the hall now, an' me not knowin' what ter do, at all!"

"Hi! Now calm down like a good lass, and tell a man what you need. I
can't make sense out of what you said. Now, then?"

"Oh, come in, come in!" cried Nora, and turning, she ran toward the
house, the coachman following, muttering something about girls never
having their wits about them.

But when he reached the house, and heard that Rose and charming little
Princess Polly were missing, his kindly face looked very serious, and he
promised to get help and make a thorough search of the town.

He called the gardener and a boy who had been helping him, and then came
the question as to where to look first.

In the street some boys were playing ball, among them, Lester Jenks.

"It might be that they were around the neighborhood, but haven't yet
come home," ventured the gardener.

"That's not likely," said the coachman, "but we might ask a few
questions of those boys.

"Hi, there, boys! Have you seen Rose, or her friend Polly around here
this afternoon?'

"They went down town with Rose's aunt to Mr. Kirtland's studio," shouted
Lester. "Here, Jack, pitch decently, will you?"

"Look here, young feller! This ain't no joke. Quit playin' ball long
'nough ter hear what I say. They're lost, those two little girls are.
They haven't come home!"

"I saw 'em down there, when I was there, and I left them there, in the
little yard when I came home."

"When was that?" said John.

"Oh, 'bout six, I guess," said Lester. "I don't know exactly."

The coachman hurried to the house.

"If ye please, 'm, the Jenks boy says he saw them out in the little
garden that joins the studio at about six. It's about half past six, or
so, now, 'm, an' ye've just reached home. I can't make out how ye missed
them, but I think I'll go over ter Mr. Kirtland's house, and if he isn't
out ter some reception, like he often is, I'll ask the loan of his key,
and with the gardener, I'll hunt there first. I believe they're there."

Aunt Lois, now really wild with anxiety, could only say: "Go, at once.
Go somewhere, do something, to find them. See! It is getting dusky.
Wherever they are, they are frightened, I know, and surely I am almost
sick with fear for their safety."

Mr. Kirtland was at home, and while he could not believe the children
were in his studio, he felt that no place should be neglected in the
effort to find them, and he insisted upon joining the searching party.

Meanwhile, in the studio the dusky shadows had grown deeper. The two
terrified little girls had begun to wonder if anyone would ever come for

They still clung to each other, and for some time not a sound had broken
the stillness. Naught save the ticking of the clock, and that did not
startle them, but, rather, by its monotonous tune, seemed like a friend
that sought to cheer them.

Not even a team passed, and no footstep upon the sidewalk told of a
pedestrian who walked by the building.

"If you heard someone walk past this place would you wish he'd stop, or
would you wish he wouldn't?" whispered Rose.

"I'd hate to hear him go right by without stopping, because I'd know he
wasn't coming to take us home, but if he stopped I'd be scared!"
whispered Polly.


Rose grasped Polly's arm.

"It's in THERE! It's in THERE!" they shrieked, as if with one voice,
then in a frightened little heap they slipped to the floor and tried to
draw the rug over them to hide and shield them from they knew not what!

Suddenly both rooms were flooded with light, and a familiar voice spoke.

"They're not here, you see; I felt sure that they could not be in the
studio. We must search elsewhere, and lose no time about it."

It was Arthur Kirtland's voice, and scrambling to their feet, they ran
to greet him, all fear left behind.

"Oh, Mr. Kirtland, we ARE here," cried Rose.

"And we've been here just almost FOREVER," Polly added.

"And, oh, here's John!" cried Rose. "Now we can go home!"

"I think ye can, bein's yer Aunt Lois thinks ye're both lost, and no
knowin' whether we'll find ye or not. Ye better be tellin' Mr. Kirtland
how it is ye are here after he'd thought the place empty, and he'd
locked it up, an' gone home."

Quickly they told the story of their trip to the ice cream parlor, and
of their late return, finding entrance by the little green door.

Of the lonely waiting, of the noises that had frightened them.

"Oh, Mr. Kirtland! That armor is standing just as it did when it was
daylight here, but truly we heard his sword rattle against his shield,
and once--" Rose's voice faltered.

"Once," said Polly, taking up the story, "we thought he walked across
the floor!"

"I have heard the same thing," was the quick reply, "and I am not at all
surprised that you were terrified."

Rose and Polly were grateful that he did not laugh or even look amused.

"But he COULDN'T walk," said Rose; "it's only an iron suit."

"Oh, he surely doesn't move," Arthur Kirtland said, and he smiled kindly
at the children, "but sometimes I think a tiny mouse mistakes it for a
huge cage and runs around in it, and as to his walking, the cars on the
railroad that runs back of the studio jar the building and shake the
suit of armor. I think that may be what you heard."

"Well, it sounds harmless enough when ye know what made the noise," John
said, with a laugh, "and now I guess ye'll be some willin' ter go home
ter Aunt Lois. The carriage is at the door."

"Oh, yes, yes!" they cried.

"A studio is a lovely place in the day-time," said Polly, "and the
pictures are beautiful then, but when it begins to be dark it's

"Different! I guess that's so," said the coachman; "and now, come! We'll
drive home at a lively pace."

"Oh, doesn't it seem good to be safe!" cried Polly when, snugly seated
in the carriage, they saw that they were on their own familiar avenue.

"Yes, and we always like to be GOING somewhere, and now we're glad that
we're almost home," said Rose.

"I guess anybody would be glad to get away from that studio, if they'd
ever been in there alone when it gets darker and darker every minute,"
said Polly.

"Do you b'lieve Mr. Kirtland would dare to be there at night?"
questioned Rose.

"Why, he came there after us!" cried Polly, in surprise.

"Well, he had our coachman with him," Rose replied; "he didn't come

"That's so," agreed Polly; "he couldn't be afraid with the coachman for

Aunt Lois was just beginning to think that she could not bear waiting to
hear from the searching party, when she heard little feet upon the
piazza, the music of merry voices, and when the maid opened the door,
Rose ran in, followed by Polly.

"Oh, please may I stay, 'm, to hear what happened to the two dears?"
pleaded Nora.

Aunt Lois smiled assent, and then Rose, with Polly's help, told the
story of the afternoon, of their return to the studio, of the terror
that seemed to fill shadowy corners when twilight came.

"And the noises! Oh, Aunt Lois, you don't know what strange sounds there
were in that studio! I love the pictures, and it's beautiful there in
the daylight, but I can't forget the fright we had, and I won't want to
go there again for, oh, a LONG time!" said Rose.

"We've told you how dark and lonely it was," added Polly, "but you'd
have to HEAR that armor clank to know how it sounded."

"I'm so deaf that some of the lesser noises would not have reached me,
and really that is the only mercy I know of in being deaf," Aunt Lois
said. "You've both been so completely frightened there, that I, too,
think you would better not go there for some time. Indeed, I wish
something very bright and cheery might occur that would turn your
thoughts from the studio."

"Ye'll not let the children go there, but if I might make so bold as to
advise ye, 'm, I'd ask ye ter let the portrait go an' stay away from
there. The place is jist haunted, and the demons might get ye, even in
daylight!" Nora had shrieked that Aunt Lois might hear.

"Nora! Nora! Not a word of demons or haunting! You well know that I do
not approve of any such foolish notions," Aunt Lois replied.

Nora went back to the kitchen and there expressed her belief to the
cook, that studio place was "just full of old spooks!"



ON the day after the one at the studio, Rose and Polly sat on the
terrace, their laps filled with flowers. Each was weaving a wreath for
the other, and each was intent upon making a very beautiful one.

"Mine will be syringas and pink geraniums," said Rose, "and, Polly
Sherwood, would you ever think shadows could be so horrid as they were
last night?"

"No, I wouldn't," said Polly, "specially when we're out here in the
sunlight. Now, just see what I'm doing. I'm making this wreath of pink
rosebuds and mignonette. You'll look fine in it when it's done."

"So will you, Princess Polly, when you wear the wreath I'm making. You
always look like a TRULY princess, but you'll look more like one than
ever when you have this on. I put syringas in it because they're so
sweet," said Rose.

"That's why I used mignonette," said Polly. "Look! Mine is half done."

"Oh, it's lovely!" cried Rose.

They surely were having a fine time. The gay colored boxes filled with
bonbons that Aunt Lois had given them lay on the grass between them, and
they were almost empty boxes, because busy little hands had paused so
often to dip into them.

"Six left," said Rose; "three for you and three for me. Let's keep the
boxes for paper dolls, they're such pretty ones."

"We will," agreed Polly, "and now, Rose, try on the wreath."

"Oh, it looks fine on your brown curls," she cried, as she placed the
pretty wreath on Rose's head.

"And here's yours," said Rose, as she laid it lightly upon Polly's
flaxen curls.

"Oh, my, it's just the right kind of a wreath for you!" she cried.
"Let's go in and show them to Aunt Lois."

They sprang from the grass and turned toward the house just in time to
meet Nora, the maid, as she was coming toward them.

"Yer Aunt Lois wants yer ter come right in, Miss Rose, an' bring Miss
Polly with yer," she said.

"That's funny," said Rose, with a merry laugh in which Polly joined,
"for we were just going to run in and let her see our wreaths."

"Well, now, ye look like fairies with the bright flowers on yer hair,
an' do ye go right in, because there's someone has come that's wantin'
ter see yer. Keep the flowers on yer heads an' go right in," said Nora.

"Who is it, Nora?" Rose asked, her eyes bright with excitement.

"Well, I do'no whether she'd want yer ter be surprised or let me tell
yer, but--it's yer Uncle John!"

The smiles fled from their faces.

"Uncle John!" gasped Rose. "Oh, Nora, is he very old? Does he carry a
cane? Is he deaf? Is he going to take me away from here?"

She had clasped her hands nervously, and stood waiting for Nora to
answer her questions.

"Now, Miss Rose," said Nora, her eyes twinkling, "I think ye better go
right in an' see him."

"But should you think he's over NINETY?" persisted Rose.

"Well I shouldn't say he was OVER that," Nora replied dryly.

"Come Polly," said Rose. "There's nothing else to do but to go in."

With lagging steps they walked along the path and turned toward the
house. Then for the first time they saw the automobile in which the
guest had arrived.

"Why, who drove him here?" said Rose. "Look! There's no man waiting in
it, and if he's NINETY he wouldn't drive alone, would he?"

Polly shook her head.

"Perhaps he isn't QUITE that," she said.

It was the only bit of encouragement that she could offer.

"I think I'll wait here on the piazza," she said when they had reached
the door.

"Why, don't you want to meet him?" Rose asked.

"Oh, yes," Polly answered, "but if he's--if he, oh, I don't quite know
how I mean it. I just thought perhaps you'd like to know him a little,
and then I'll come in, and _I'_LL know him, too."

Nora, just behind them, reached forward and touched Rose's shoulder.

"Run right in," she said, "the gentleman's waiting to see you."

For the moment she forgot Polly, and hastening across the great hall,
lest Uncle John might guess that she did not wish to meet him, little
Rose Atherton entered the long, cool parlor, and found herself face to
face with a tall, handsome man, who rose to greet her. His waving hair
was touched with gray, his brown eyes were merry.

"So this is little Rose," he said, "will you come and let me look at
you? Why, who made the dainty wreath for you?"

He offered not one, but both his hands to her, and with a happy cry, she
laid her little hands in his.

"Will you come for a few days and make me a visit?" he asked. "You will
have a pleasant time, and we shall get acquainted. I think I can make
you like me, little Rose."

"Oh, I do, I DO like you NOW!" she cried, and her little heart was
filled with delight.

Here was a cheery, handsome young uncle, in place of the unattractive
old uncle that she had supposed awaited her.

"Don't remove your wreath," he said, as she raised her hands toward the
flowers, "because it is really very becoming. Were you playing alone
when I arrived?"

"Oh, no," said Rose, "I was so glad when I saw you, because--" she

"Because?" he said, his eyes twinkling.

"Because you aren't OLD. I thought my Uncle John MUST be 'most ninety,"
she said softly, so that Aunt Lois might not hear.

"And Polly, Princess Polly, was with me. She's my little guest. May I
bring her now? She's so beautiful you'll just love to look at her."

"Oh, then, bring Miss Polly at once," he said.

Rose ran to the hall.

"Oh, come, come!" she said, in a whisper so loud that it reached Uncle
John's ear and caused him to laugh softly.

"Come!" she repeated. "He's as handsome as a prince," and clasping
Polly's hand, she returned to the parlor.

He greeted Polly as cordially as he had Rose, and Polly at once decided
that Rose's Uncle John was the handsomest man, next to her dear papa,
that she had ever seen.

"I have been asking Lois to loan Rose to me for a few days, and she has
consented. Rose seems to think it might be enjoyable. I would not think,
however, of taking her from you while you are her guest, Miss Polly, but
if you will come with her, I shall be doubly happy. I have a lovely
place at the shore. Will you come?"

"Oh, I'd love to," said Polly, "there's nothing finer than the shore."

"MAY we?" Rose asked, running to Aunt Lois.

"Why, certainly. I think the change will be pleasant for you. Nora must
pack whatever you will need in your suit cases. Uncle John never did
like to wait for anything, and he wishes to take you back with him."

Uncle John took a package from his pocket.

"I stopped on my way and purchased two veils. Men don't know much about
such things, and when the clerk showed me a box full of them, I didn't
know which to choose. I looked at a pink and a blue one, and because I'd
no idea which you'd like best, I brought them both to you, Rose. You can
loan one to Polly. You'll need your hats tied on securely on your ride
to the shore."

"Oh, see the lovely, LOVELY VEILS!" cried Rose, when, having opened the
parcel, the soft blue and pink gauze lay before them.

"No one could have found prettier ones," said Rose. "On, thank you for
bringing them to me. I like to have gifts, but, oh, I LOVE to know folks
care to give them to me. That's BEST of all."

"Dear little girl, you are right about that," Uncle John said heartily,
"and now run and get your wraps, and we'll spin away to the shore."

"Oh, Polly, Princess Polly, Princess Polly! ISN'T he dear?" whispered
Rose, when together they climbed the stairway to help Nora to choose
what they would need for the visit.

"Oh, Nora!" cried Rose, "why didn't you tell me he wasn't old at all?"

"Sure, now," replied Nora, "if I'd said what I thought, I'd have said he
looked like a noble lord, so he does."

"And I'm to go, too, Nora!" cried Polly, "and wasn't he kind to seem
just as glad to have me as he was to have Rose. Of course, he wasn't
TRULY, but he was SOME glad, and I wish he was my Uncle John, too."

"Well, now," said Nora, "do ye just PLAY he's yer own uncle, and go
along with Rose, and himself ter have a fine visit."

Nora found it something of a task to pack the two suit cases, because
the two little girls were so excited that they could hardly keep still
long enough to choose what they wished to carry.

"Put my pink dress in, Nora, and Polly, you take your pink one, too,"
said Rose, "and, oh, come over here to the window and see how lovely the
automobile looks from here!"

Away they ran to the window.

"It's a beauty," said Polly, "and I'd rather ride in a red one than--"

"Miss Polly, will I be puttin' yer pink frock in?" questioned Nora,
"sure, he's waitin', an' we ought ter hurry the packin'!"

"Well we ought to hurry!" agreed Polly, "and, Rose, didn't his eyes just
twinkle when he asked us to come!"

"And to think I EVER believed he was old!" said Rose.

"Hold still till I tie yer hats on with a veil. Now, which will ye wear,
Miss Rose?"

"Pink, because it's ROSE color," cried Rose.

"No, no!" said Polly; "the blue is prettier!"

At last they were ready. They ran down the stairway, Nora following with
the suit cases, and laughing because they hopped on every other stair.

"All ready? Why, what charming little ladies I have to take home! Those
veils are really all right, and hugely becoming. Would you like to start
now, or wait an hour or two?" As he asked the question his brown eyes
were dancing.

"Oh, now, NOW!" they cried.

He laughed, and stooping, lifted little Rose so that he could look
straight into her eyes, eyes as brown as his own.

"Little Rose Atherton," he said softly, "you are like your father, and
your mother, too, but most of all you are every inch an Atherton."

He kissed her gently and set her down, but the look in his eyes and the
kiss had won her little heart, and she clung to his hand.

Aunt Rose and Aunt Lois had been all that was kind, but Uncle John! Ah,
he would LOVE her!

She had always wanted someone to love her.

"Do be careful, John," said Aunt Lois "I can't seem to think those
automobiles are as safe as my carriage is."

"I'll take the best of care of my precious little passengers," he said,
"and Lois!" speaking loudly, that she might hear, "I remember a ride
that I took with you years ago. The horse shied at a piece of old paper
in the road, at a girl with a red parasol, and a half dozen other
equally harmless things. I'll promise you the automobile won't act like
that! If it does, I'll sell it and get another!"

At last they were off. They had waved their hands to Aunt Lois, and now,
side by side, they were spinning over the road, Uncle John feeling very
proud of his lovely little guests.

They laughed and chattered all the way, and Uncle John thought he never
had heard merrier music.

It was when they had left the country town behind and caught the first
glimpse of the sea that their cries of delight charmed him.

"See the sails! The sails way out there against the sky!" cried Rose.

"And the big gulls!" cried Polly. "See them fly way, way up high, and
then down, down again to the waves."

It had been a long, sunny road, with seldom a turn, and only
occasionally a glimpse of the sea, but suddenly the road curved, winding
around behind a high bluff, and there, blue and glistening in the
sunlight, lay the sea, the big blue sea!

"We're here at the shore!" cried Rose, "and oh, I've never been there
before. I didn't know it was so lovely!"

"You're a real little sailor's lass, or rather, a sea-captain's lass, if
you love the sea so well!" said Uncle John, well pleased with her
excitement and delight.

He stopped that they might watch the incoming tide for a few moments,
then off over the road they sped.

"Here we are!" he cried, when after a half hour's more ride, they turned
in at the driveway of a fine shore villa.

"Welcome to 'The Cliffs'!" said Uncle John.

He lifted them down, and taking each by the hand, turned toward the
broad piazza.

"Ah, Mrs. Wilton, you were looking for us!" he said, greeting the
housekeeper, a stout, cheery looking woman, who took the suit cases and
smiled, as if caring for two small girls were the one thing that
delighted her.

"Yes, I was watching for you, and when you drove up to the house I said
to myself:

"'Well, he's TWICE lucky, for he wanted Rose for a visitor, and he's
found another child to bring with her!'"

She greeted the children cordially as they were introduced.

"Her name could be nothing but Atherton," she said, "why, sir, she looks
like you enough to be your own child."

"She is my BORROWED little girl," Uncle John replied, "she's MINE while



Three days had passed, and Uncle John Atherton had filled them full of

They had bathed in the surf, they had taken long tramps along the beach
when the tide was out, they had sailed in his yacht, "The Dolphin," they
had been up at the great hotel, where a fine hop was enjoyed.

Was there any pleasure that he had not given them?

One morning he looked into the two bright little faces, as they sat at
breakfast, and wondered what he would best choose for the day's chief

"I believe I'll ask you two little friends to choose your amusement for
to-day. What shall we do first?" he asked.

"'The Dolphin!' A sail on 'The Dolphin!'" they cried without a moment's

"Then get on those sailor frocks that you wore yesterday, and your big
sailor hats, and we'll sail on the 'briny deep,' right after breakfast,"
was the quick reply.

He was well pleased, for they had chosen just that which he so loved to

They hurriedly finished their breakfast and ran up to their room to put
on the pretty sailor suits that he had so admired.

"Rose!" called Uncle John.

"I'm almost ready," she answered.

"No hurry," he replied, "only when you, and Polly are ready, run right
down to the boat. I've told Donald to take you for a row, and just as
soon as I have finished some letters, I'll go with you for a sail."

"Oh, that will be fine!" cried Rose, "because while we are waiting for
you we'll be on the water."

Uncle John returned to his letters, and soon Rose and Polly hurried down
to the piazza and out onto the driveway.

It was a short run to the beach, where they found Donald, the little
Scotch lad, waiting for them.

With a new knife he was whittling a bit of wood into the rude semblance
of a boat.

He had intended to go fishing with another boy, and he was not pleased
to be rowing two small girls, so much younger than himself; therefore he
was sullen. True, he was well paid for rowing them, and he was glad of
the money, but, ungrateful little lad that he was, he most unwillingly
waited for Rose and Polly.

"I'd 'nough rather be fishing," he grumbled, but aloud he said:

"Come on!"

They followed him, clambered into the boat, and soon were out on the
water, singing a pretty boating song that Uncle John had taught them:

"Floating, floating over the sea,
Blithe of heart and gay are we.
Riding lightly over the foam,
O'er the sea 'tis joy to roam."

"I b'lieve I could row," said Rose.

"Huh! Girls can't do much," said Donald roughly.

"Girls CAN!" cried Polly, vexed that the boy should annoy Rose.

"Huh! Not MUCH!" he replied.

He was not in the least interested in their merry chatter. He felt sure
that small girls were of no use.

He talked very loudly of lines, spars, windlass and davits. To be sure,
he did not know one from the other, but then he knew that the little
girls did not know, and he hoped to impress them.

"What ARE those things?" Polly asked, when he had been talking for some
time, and constantly using names that they did not know.

"Oh, a man couldn't tell girls so they'd understand," said Donald,
squaring his shoulders and trying to look as large as possible.

"A MAN!" cried Polly, and although neither had meant to do it, both
laughed merrily.

Donald was angry, too angry to reply, but under his breath he muttered:

"Laugh if ye want ter, but I'll get even!"

It was in vain that Rose and Polly tried to talk with him.

He only glowered, and was too sullen to answer the questions that they
asked, and for a time they were silent. Rose spoke first.

"Why are you rowing us back?" she cried. "We don't want to go back yet!"

"Got ter go back a minute," said the boy, "just for a arrant."

He rowed close to a short pile that was near the shore and in very
shallow water. There was a huge iron ring attached to the pile, used for
mooring small boats.

Donald, who had been watching the shore very closely, now, to hide his
interest, bent all his energy in fastening the chain of the boat to the

"There!" he said, "that's fast, an' you girls are safe if you sit still
till I come back."

He sprang from the boat, and waded through the shallow water, then ran
up on the beach, shouting:

"Jock! Jock! Wait a minute!"

"Donald! Don't stay long!" cried Rose, and Polly echoed her words, but
Donald either did not, or would not hear!

They watched the two boys as they stood for a moment talking, then ran
down the beach.

"I don't think he was very nice to go off and leave us here while he
does errands," said Polly.

"He wasn't nice at all," said Rose, "and I'll tell Uncle John, if he
gets here first."

"Is this chain VERY long?" Polly asked a moment later.

"I don't know," said Rose, looking over the side of the boat and down
into the water.

"I don't see it," she said a moment later, "why did you ask that,

"Oh, I was only wondering how far we could float before the chain would
look tight. We've gone ever so far, and the boat doesn't tug at it yet!"
Polly said.

"It will, though!" said Rose.

Still they floated, and for a time they were silent, contented to be out
in the sunshine.

Then suddenly Rose looked up at Polly, quick terror in her eyes.

"Polly, Princess Polly!" she cried, "is there ANY chain on this boat?"

"Why of course!" said Polly, "didn't you see Donald fasten it to that
big iron ring on the post?"

Rose leaned forward and looked into Polly's eyes.

"I saw him fasten ONE END of it, Polly, and so did you, but was the
OTHER end fastened to this boat?'

"Why, yes, I--oh, Rose, you DON'T think we're--DRIFTING?" gasped Polly.

"You can't get up, and turn round," said Rose, "because Uncle John told
us always to keep our seats in a boat, but can't you just twist round
enough to see?"

With great care Polly turned, and saw just what she feared--the ring on
the boat and NO CHAIN CONNECTED!

With a white little face Polly turned, and with parted lips looked at

"We ARE drifting--JUST DRIFTING!" she whispered hoarsely.

"Drifting!" cried Rose. "Oh, Polly, what SHALL we do?"

"Sit still," whispered Polly, "and wait--just WAIT!"

"What WILL Uncle John do? And where will he think we are?" said Rose.

"Oh, I don't know!" wailed Polly, "but I'm SURE we ought to do
something. Just look how far we are from the shore, and we're going all
the time!"

They looked in despair toward the beach. No one was in sight, and the
dancing waves glistened in the sunlight, as if they laughed, feeling no
pity for the two frightened children in the boat.

"Do you s'pose we could row?" questioned Polly.

"I don't know how," said Rose, "but it didn't look hard when Donald did

They reached for the oars, but found that neither was strong enough to
lift one, and Rose's eyes filled with tears when she looked at Polly,
while Polly's brave effort to cheer Rose with a smile failed, because
her own lips were quivering.

"Let's sit down in the bottom of the boat, it seems safer," said Rose.

They slipped from their seats, and each clung to the other.

"If only Uncle John knew!" wailed Rose.

"If only he knew!" echoed Polly, with a sob.

Still the little boat rocked lightly on the waves, and now they no
longer tried to hide their fear, but cried, because they could not help

Out on a high bluff a tall, square-shouldered man leveled a powerful
glass. and looked out across the waves.

Evidently he saw what he was looking for, and hastily slinging the
leather strap that held the glass over his shoulder, he strode down to
the shore.

Completely tired, the two children lay sobbing and clinging to each
other, no longer looking toward the shore, because now they were too far
out to clearly see it.

A white gull circled near them, and the whirring of its wings made Polly
open her eyes.

"A great gull!" she whispered, then, oh, the joy in her cry:

"'The Dolphin!' 'The Dolphin!'"

Rose scrambled to her knees.

"Oh, it is! It is! DEAR Uncle John!" she cried.

It was a quick turn from terror in the little boat to joy and safety in
the big yacht, with Uncle John, big, brave Uncle John, to care for them.

"You must tell me all about this," he said, when they were once aboard
the yacht, "but not a word until after we've had a wee lunch."

The steward brought dainty sandwiches, cakes, fruit and hot chocolate,
and the happy little trio enjoyed it heartily, partly because it was a
delicious spread, but far more because of their feeling of safety after
their terror.

The children had been frightened, but bright, cheery Uncle John had
suffered more than he would have admitted when, through his powerful
glass, he had seen the two little occupants of the rowboat crouching
close together, rocked at the will of the waves and going steadily out
to the open sea.

He knew that it would take but a short time to reach them, but would
they remember what he had so often told them?

If they should change places in the boat and thus capsize it, no yacht
could reach them in time to save them!

Now, with Polly and Rose beside him, safe and sound, he felt as if a
heavy cloud had lifted.

After the lunch had been enjoyed, Uncle John asked for the story of
their plight, and together they told it, telling of the start with
Donald, of his sullenness, his anger, and his muttered threat.

"I don't know SURELY, TRULY, what he said, but I thought he said:

"'I'll get even with them,' and Polly thought so, too," concluded Rose.

"And after he'd said that, he wouldn't talk at all," said Polly.

"And we thought he'd fastened the boat when we saw him hitching one end
of the chain to the big ring," said Rose, "and he waded out to the
shore, and ran off up the beach with another boy."

"We shouted to him, and told him not to stay long, but he didn't answer,
and didn't look back, but just kept on running until he met another boy,
and then they ran away together," said Polly.

"The other boy had a fishing pole," added Rose.

"Oh, he did, did he?" said Uncle John, "well, I wouldn't be surprised if
young Donald had a fishing outfit tucked snugly away in some cranny in
the rocks, where he doubtless found it after he left you."

"What WOULD have happened to us if you hadn't found us?" said Rose.

Uncle John Atherton's brown eyes were not twinkling as he turned to
reply, and Polly thought she saw a tear on his lashes.

His arm tightened about Rose, and he drew her closer.

"I don't like to think what MIGHT have happened to you two little
friends, alone on the open sea. I shall settle with Donald later," he

"What will you do?" questioned Rose, looking up into his face with
eager, yet anxious eyes.

"Why do you ask?" he questioned.

"I wouldn't think to ask if you were smiling," said Rose, "but you look
so stern--oh, I don't care if you scold him some, but 'tho he was mean,
and naughty, don't make him feel TOO bad."

"You've a loving heart," was the quick reply, "and like all the
Athertons, you are generous."

"Generous?" said Rose, in quick surprise, "I didn't say give him
anything. I only said: 'Don't make him feel TOO bad!'"

"My dear little girl, there are other ways of being generous beside
bestowing gifts. It is VERY generous of you, when Donald has treated you
so cruelly, to ask mercy for him. I'll remember your tender pleading in
his behalf, but Donald must be made to know, and fully understand that
what he did was far worse than merely naughty, it was wicked!

"And now, for the time, we'll talk no more about Donald. You and Polly
are safe and sound, the little boat is floating just behind us, all the
sky is blue and cloudless. We are bounding over the sparkling waves,
without a thought or care.

"I am master of the Dolphin, and you and Polly are two lovely little sea
fairies that I have invited aboard to keep me company."



THE days spent at the shore sped as if on golden wings, and Uncle John
declared that the sunlight seemed brighter while Rose remained under the
red roof of "The Cliffs."

He had given his little guests every pleasure, he had bought them a
beautiful collection of shells, and a tiny ship for each to sail in the
brook at Sherwood Hall. Was there anything that he had not done for
their happiness, their delight while with him at the shore?

Now the day for their departure had arrived, and his genial face looked
strangely quiet, and he forgot to laugh and joke with them.

He watched Rose closely, and once, when she looked up at him, she
thought his eyes looked grieved.

She laid her hand on his arm, and spoke the thought that was troubling

"You don't want me to go?" she questioned. "You wish I was not going
back to Aunt Rose?"

Uncle John sat down in his great arm chair, and lifted Rose to his knee.

Looking into her brown eyes that were so like his own, he gazed for a
moment, then he spoke, and his voice was very gentle.

"I wanted you to come to me for this little visit, but I did not dream
how hard it would be to let you go. I shall miss you, I think you know
that, little Rose."

"I do, oh, I do, and I don't want to go. I wouldn't EVER be ready to
leave you Uncle John!" she cried.

Quickly two strong arms were around her, holding her fast, as he

"WHY, little girl? Tell me WHY?"

"Because you love me," sobbed Rose. "Aunt Judith took care of me because
she HAD to, but she always said it was a nuisance, and now Aunt Rose and
Aunt Lois are kind and good to me, and they like to have me with them,
but they never--"

The soft little voice paused.

"They'd never think to hold me if I felt badly, and sometimes I'm so
lonely. Other little girls have mamas to care for them, and big, tall
papas who love them, and truly aunts, real GOOD aunts aren't the same."

"How about uncles? Are THEY worth while?" questioned Uncle John.

She lifted her head, and seeing the twinkle in his fine eyes, she smiled
through her tears.

"I've only one uncle," she said, "but he's the best one in the world!"

"He's scheming now to find a way to be with you at least a part of each
year," was the quick reply.

"Oh, WILL you, CAN you do that?" cried Rose.

"I think so," he said, "and I cannot now tell you just how I shall
manage it, but I am quite sure that I can do it, and until I am ready to
talk with your Aunt Rose regarding it, you must promise to keep it for a
little secret, a pleasant thing to think of when days are a bit dull."

"Oh, I will, I will!" cried Rose. "I won't say a word about it, but I'll
think of it every day!"

Her tears had vanished, and when Polly came running in she did not dream
that Rose had been crying.

"Only think," said Polly, "I have to say 'Good-bye' twice to-day, for
I'm to leave here, and then I'm to leave Rose's house to go back to
Sherwood Hall!"

"And we both knew that this was the day that Polly was to go home, but
last night she got a letter," said Rose, "and her mama says that she's
glad she's having such a lovely time, but that Sherwood Hall is so
lonely without her, she can't spare her any longer.

"I do think it must be dreadful there with Princess Polly away, but I
wish I didn't have to give her up."

"Well, now, suppose we make the trip as cheerful as possible," said
Uncle John. "You have your suit cases, your boxes of shells, your little
boats and two hand bags. Really, I think the automobile will be far more
comfortable than the cars."

"Oh, yes, yes!" they cried in delight.

"And I'll drive you over to Aunt Rose's house. I'll stay while we lunch
with her, and later in the afternoon we'll take Polly to Sherwood Hall,
where I shall take the opportunity to tell Mrs. Sherwood how greatly I
have enjoyed her little daughter as my guest."

"Oh, what fun!" cried Polly, "and mama will see you. I told her you were
ALMOST as handsome as papa!"

"Oh, spare my blushes!" said Uncle John, "but all the same, I thank you,
little Princess Polly, for your good opinion of me. I trust that Rose,
and I may borrow you again some day."

[Illustration with caption: "Look!" she cried, "the waves never danced

"And I'll love to be borrowed!" cried Polly, "for this has been a fine
visit. Just think how much I have to tell when I am at home, and Lena
and Rob and Leslie and Harry come up and ask:

"'Did you have a nice time Polly? Where did you go? What did you do
while you were away,' and I'll hardly know where to begin, because
there's so much to tell."

They ran down to the beach "Just to say 'Good-bye' to the waves," Rose

"Look!" she cried. "The waves never danced prettier."

It was with a light heart that Rose let Uncle John help her into the
automobile beside Polly. She was to have two long rides with him, and,
oh, the secret that she had promised loyally to keep!

"He will fix it so he can be with me PART of the time, SOME of the
time!" sang her happy little heart, and her eyes brightened and her
cheeks grew pinker with the thought.

She laughed and chattered with Polly all the way, and the long ride
seemed all too short, for before she dreamed that they were near the old
Atherton house, they turned in at the driveway, and Nora, who had seen
them coming, stood smiling a welcome from the doorway.

They made a happy party at lunch, and Aunt Rose was so evidently glad
that Rose had returned that the little girl felt almost guilty when she
thought of the secret that Uncle John had given her to keep.

"It isn't that I don't want to stay here; I mean it isn't JUST that.
It's that I can stay here, and be happier because I have Uncle John now,
and he loves me, and, oh, he's planning, just simply planning to--"

Just as she reached that point Uncle John commenced to tell a very funny
story, and in the laughter that greeted it she, for the moment, forgot
the secret.

Uncle John said nothing of his plan to Aunt Rose. Indeed, he was not
quite ready to do that. He knew Aunt Rose Jerusha Atherton too well to
tell a part of any plan to her. He knew that she wished her little
namesake to be always with her, and he wisely intended to say nothing of
his wish regarding Rose until his scheme was complete.

"Then," thought Uncle John, "I'll have my way. I usually do!" and he
smiled as if the thought amused him.

Rose felt that the house seemed less gloomy than she had thought, but
she knew that it was Uncle John and Princess Polly who helped to make it

And when, in the afternoon, they were once more speeding over the shady
roads toward Sherwood Hall, it seemed as if every day since she had
first met Uncle John had been a holiday.

It was Polly who interrupted her dreaming.

"Why, Rose Atherton!" she said, "I said 'Good-bye' to your two Aunts and
to Nora and to Lester Jenks, but I never thought to say it to
Evangeline! I didn't want to talk to her, but I did mean just to say

"Well, I guess you needn't mind," said Rose. "It may be you'd OUGHT to
have said it, but she never'd let you go without writing an old poem,
and p'raps it would have been a long one."

"Oh, dear," said Polly, "I'm ALMOST glad I forgot!"

It was a cordial welcome that awaited them at Sherwood Hall. Mrs.
Sherwood could not wait until Polly should be beside her, but stood upon
the broad piazza, watching until the big automobile appeared around the
bend of the road.

"Ah, there they come!" she cried, "my own little Princess Polly is
coming back to Sherwood Hall."

Up the broad driveway it came, and the moment it stopped Polly sprang
out and into the arms that opened wide to receive her.

"Oh, it's lovely to be with Rose, and I've had a fine time, so why IS it
so sweet to come home ?" she cried.

"We who have loving hearts can easily understand," said Mrs. Sherwood,
"and Mr. Atherton doubtless remembers of days when, as a boy, he went on
vacation trips that he enjoyed with all the ardent spirit of youth, yet
when the day came for returning, his heart beat faster. Home, after all,
seemed the dearest place!"

"That is exactly as I remember it, but there's one thing that you did
not mention, and that was the tears that I had to hide," said Uncle

"I started on my camping trips with high spirits, yet a bit of regret at
leaving home caused my eyes to fill. I could not let the other boys see
the tears for fear of being laughed at, so I made all sorts of excuses
for the moisture by talking of dust and cinders; that, however, never
deceived my comrades for a moment. Therefore, they dubbed me 'Softy,' a
name that I detested."

The sound of a firm tread on the gravel walk caused them to turn as
Arthur Sherwood came to greet his guest, and to welcome his little
daughter, Polly.

The older members of the party seated themselves on the broad piazza,
and while they were pleasantly chatting, Polly and Rose found their
little boats that Uncle John had purchased for them, and away they ran
to the brook to try them.

"Mine has rubies and emeralds for cargo," said Rose, "and a few, just a
FEW necklaces. What has yours, Polly?"

"Mine has diamonds and sapphires," said Polly, "and there are bracelets
and bangles in the hold."

"Oh, see their sails!" cried Rose, "how fine, they look just like real
ships, that have truly cargoes."

"And see them in the water!" said Polly. "The real boats floating, and
the shadow boats down, down in the water. Which are finest, the TRULY
boats or the shadow boats?"

"The truly boats are dearest, because Uncle John gave them to us, and
they are real, but the shadow boats are beautiful and they look like
fairy ships," said Rose.

"Push yours out into the brook away from the shore," said Polly, "and
I'll lash the water with this switch."

"All right," said Rose, and she gave the tiny craft a gentle push.

Polly struck the water sharply with her switch.

"Look! Look!" she cried, "See the boats rocking on the waves! See the
bubbles! Don't it look almost like foam?"

The boats rocked, and danced on the little waves that were only ripples
on the surface, and Polly was about to use the switch harder in an
attempt to make a hurricane when they heard Uncle John calling:

"Rose! Rose!"

"Oh, he's calling me," cried Rose, and lifting the little boats from the
water they ran back to the driveway.

A few weeks earlier Rose would have found it hard to leave Polly, and
she did regret it, but the fact that Uncle John would be with her on the
way back to Aunt Rose made it easier.

Then there was his promise, that only he and her own little self knew

And later she was to visit Polly! Oh, these were pleasant things to
think of!

The "Good-byes" were said, Mrs. Sherwood had urged Rose to come a little
later to visit Polly, Uncle John had agreed to call whenever Rose was at
Sherwood Hall, Mr. Sherwood had promised to drive over to call upon the
master of "The Cliffs" and enjoy a sail on the Dolphin, and Rose, as
they drove away, spoke the thought that told of her happiness.

"I feel as if they were my own relatives," she said, "and oh, Uncle
John, isn't it different from the way it was when I lived here with Aunt
Judith. Then I felt so very poor, because I had only one person that was
really my own and SHE didn't,--need a little girl. Now I have Aunt Rose
and Aunt Lois and you, and you ALL want me."

"We need you, dear little Rose, and especially do _I_ need you."

"And you said perhaps, just PERHAPS, you could--" She paused.

"I said I should try to arrange things so that I could be with you a
part of each year.

"I think I can manage it, little Rose, if you say nothing about it until
I tell you that you may."

"I'll keep it," said Rose, "you'll see how I'll keep it!"

On the way down the avenue they stopped at Aunt Judith's cottage.

Repeated raps at the door brought no response, however, and just as they
turned to go, Gyp, the ever present Gyp, howled a bit of news from his
perch on the roof of the hen coop.

"Say! 'Taint no use ter pound on that 'ere door. She aint to home,
'cause she's somewhere else! I seen her go out. She had a basket on her
head, an' a bunnit on her arm! No, a bunnit on her, oh--pshaw! I do'no'
how ter say it! Heigh-o-dingerty-dingty-dum!"

He had done the usual thing. Whenever embarrassed Gyp took to the woods.

Uncle John looked after the flying figure, and laughed when Gyp paused
in the middle of the field to turn a somersault before disappearing in
the woods.



Polly's return was hailed with delight, and it seemed as if every child
in the neighborhood turned its steps to ward Sherwood Hall to greet her,
and to hear all about her visit.

Lena Lindsey, with her brother Rob, Leslie Grafton, and Harry, Vivian
Osborne, and, indeed, all of her little friends and playmates hastened
to see her, to hear from Rose, and to tell all of the small neighborhood
happenings that had occurred while she had been away.

"I've three white rabbits," said Rob, "and I want to show them to you,

"And mama has bought the dearest angora kitten for me. I wish you'd come
down soon and see it," urged Leslie; "it's just a baby cat and you can't
help loving her, she's so cunning."

"I haven't anything new to show you," said Vivian, laughing merrily. "I
mean I've nothing of my own, but there's SOMETHING I'll show you, and I
guess it's different from anything you ever saw!"

"Why, Vivian Osborne! What ARE you going to show Polly?" Harry Grafton

Vivian's eyes were dancing as she whispered something in Harry's ear.

"Oh, THAT'S it, is it? Well, I guess Polly WILL look when you show it to

"You just tell me this minute!" said Polly. "I'm wild to know what IT

"IT," said Vivian, "is a girl, a very pretty little girl!"

"Then why is she a sight to see, and why DO you laugh?" Polly asked,
completely puzzled.

"She LOOKS well enough," Vivian replied, "but she ACTS like--"

"The old SCRATCH!" said Rob.

"Oh, Rob!" cried Lena, "Mama told you not to say that!"

"I know it," Rob admitted, "but I couldn't think of any other name that
would give Princess Polly an idea what she was like."

"But who is she? Where is she?" questioned Polly.

"Oh, she lives in the next house to us," said Vivian. "Her papa has
bought that fine large house that has the big lawn, and the lovely
garden at the back. She's very, VERY pretty, and if she didn't ACT so--"

"HOW does she act?" said Polly. "I tell you all truly, I'm wild to see

"Rob told you how she acted' said Harry, with a laugh, "and old Scratch
isn't half bad 'nough. Say! She wanted to have a wedding for her best
doll the other day, and she cut a lace curtain off a yard from the floor
to make a wedding veil for it!"

"'Twas a parlor curtain and I guess her mama didn't think that was
cunning," said Lena.

"She tells lies--"

"Oh, Harry!" interrupted Leslie, "you mustn't."

"Well, she DOES, and they're too big to be called fibs," Harry said,

"And the queerest thing is that Inez Varney plays with her all the time,
and she doesn't ever play with any of us now. She hasn't been to my
house since that new little girl came here to live," said Leslie.

"And Leslie don't care," declared Harry, "because Inez was getting
queerer and queerer, and she wasn't the pleasantest playmate, but now
she's so gay you'd hardly think she was Inez Varney."

Polly was greatly interested.

"What's the new little girl's name?" she asked.

"Gwen Harcourt, and mama says that Mrs. Harcourt is lovely, and I must
be kind to Gwen," said Lena, "and it would be hard, only I don't often
see her. She's always with Inez."

Polly had been away but two weeks. She had gone to visit Rose Atherton,
intending to remain but a single week. Then when she was at "The Cliffs"
she had written for permission to stay "just a little longer," and Mrs.
Sherwood had extended the time an extra week.

During that time the house next to the Osborne's had been purchased, the
family had moved in and the little daughter of the family had become
very intimate with Inez, her near neighbor.

A short time surely for so much to have been accomplished.

Perhaps the "new little girl," as the other children called her, found
it easier to capture Inez, and hold her for her BEST friend, because
Inez was very eager for a little "chum."

She had hoped to be chosen by Princess Polly, to take the place of Rose.
Disappointed, and angry because Polly Sherwood did not prefer her, she
would not try to choose a mate from her other playmates. Instead, she
gave all of her time to the "new little girl," and never were two small
girls more intimate.

A few days after Polly's return she was sitting on the stone wall near
the entrance to the driveway.

A bright hued Japanese parasol kept the sun from her head and shoulders,
and she sang a cheery melody, hitting her little heels against the wall
to mark the time.

"Sunshine and showers,
Bees in the flowers,
Blue sky and floating clouds,
Soft Summer air;
Bright yellow butterfly,
His gauzy wings to try,
Floats like the thistledown,
Without a care.

"Now, to the velvet rose,
Off and away he goes,
Far from all other blooms
Roving so free;
Flighty, and light of heart,
Having of care no part,
Gay yellow butterfly,
Happy is he."

Inez Varney, with her new playmate, ran along the avenue. Inez was the
only one of Polly's friends who had not been up to see her since her
visit to Rose.

Now, in great haste, she clasped the hand of her little friend and ran
to where Polly was sitting.

"This is Gwen Harcourt," said Inez, "and Gwen, this is Polly Sherwood,
that all the children call 'Princess Polly.'"

"_I_ won't!" said little Miss Harcourt, stoutly.

"You NEEDN'T," said Polly, coolly.

The new little girl was surprised. She had believed that Polly would be
very angry. Indeed, she was quite disappointed that Polly seemed not in
the least to care.

"Is that your house up there between the trees?" she asked.

"Yes," said Polly, but she did not say: "'Will you come in?'"

That did not trouble Gwen, however. She needed no invitation. She could
invite herself, and she did.

"I'm coming over to see you some day," she said.

Inez giggled. She thought her new friend's pertness very smart.

"You don't say you'll be glad to see me, but I'm coming just the same,"
said Gwen; "and p'raps I'll come to-morrow, and p'raps it'll be next
week, but I'm truly coming."

Polly felt that she had never seen a prettier child, nor could she think
of another as rude as Gwen Harcourt.

She was always kind and polite, but what could she say to this rude
little girl that would be courteous and at the same time truthful?

"I can't tell her I'll be glad to have her come, for I just KNOW I don't
want her. She's very pretty, but, someway, I'm sure I'd be happier
without her," thought Polly.

Gwen Harcourt, vexed that Polly Sherwood had not been at all excited at
the thought of receiving a call from her little self, turned toward
Inez. "Come," she said, "let's go out in the sunshine and have a run.
It's awful dull here!"

"I guess we'll be going," said Inez. "Gwen is so very gay that most
places seem dull to her. Come!"

She held out her hand, Gwen grasped it, and together they ran down the

They did not even say "Good-bye," but raced off as if every moment spent
with Polly were too dull to be endured.

"I said I shouldn't call her 'Princess Polly' and I shan't," said Gwen,
to which Inez replied:

"Well, you don't HAVE to, and I guess she didn't care much."

Polly, looking after them, spoke softly to herself.

"What pretty eyes she had, and her hair was fine, too." Then, after a
moment's hesitation, she spoke again.

"She was lovely to look at, but she wasn't very polite.

"She said she was coming over here some day, but I do hope that she
won't hurry about it. I'm sure I don't need her as much as Inez does. I
don't mind how long it is before I see Gwen Harcourt!"

Gwen Harcourt had a most unlovely disposition and no one could guess
what she at any time might do. If Princess Polly had urged her to come
very soon to Sherwood Hall she would have waited a week at least before
appearing there.

As she had received no urging, she decided to go on the following day.

Very early the next morning Polly sat in a big chair in the library,
reading her favorite fairy book. A slight sound caused her to look up
from the page.

"Why, there she is!" she whispered.

There, indeed, was Gwen Harcourt, perched upon the fence that enclosed
the piazza. She was looking straight in at the window, her bold little
eyes noting every object in the room.

"Come out! Come out!" she cried, beckoning so frantically that she
nearly lost her balance.

Polly was annoyed. She was in the midst of an enchanting tale, and she
so wished to finish reading it. Truly, she was not glad to see Gwen

She never treated anyone rudely, however, so she closed her book and
went out to greet her early visitor.

"I guess you'd think I wanted to come up here if you knew HOW I came,"
said Gwen.

"How did you come?" Polly asked, not because she cared but in order to
say SOMETHING. She could not say that she was glad to see her.

"Through the window and over our hedge," said Gwen. "Mama said that as
I'd been horrid at the breakfast table I must stay in all the forenoon.
I didn't think that was fair, because I wasn't VERY horrid. I put my
foot on the table so I could tie my shoe ribbons. Papa said,
'Gwendolen!' and I took it down quick. Then I took some peanut shells
from my pocket and sailed them in my cup of chocolate. They looked like
little boats. My piece of melon had the stem on it and I said it was a
music box. I wound the stem round and round, and sung 'Yankee Doodle.'
Mama made the waitress take me away from the table and I just howled all
the way! I don't think I need have stayed in for such little things as
that! I DIDN'T stay in. I jumped out of the window, it's near the
ground, and then, because it was the shortest way, I scrambled right
over the hedge. Horrid old thing! It had thorns on it, and it scratched
my knee,"

Polly thought her a handsome little savage.

Gwen thought that she had made an impression upon Polly.

"There was just one reason why I acted so. Mama had guests, and she had
just been telling them what a good child I was, and I thought it would
be a joke to do some queer things at the table.

"I thought because she had company she wouldn't send me away, but she
did," she concluded.

Her next remark was even more surprising than those that she had already

"Let's catch bugs!" she said.

"Oh, horrid!" cried Polly, "I couldn't do that!"

"I do," said Gwen, "and it's fun. I caught two big old beetles and tied
threads on them for harnesses. Then I hitched them to a wee little paper
box about an inch long and they made a good span. They dragged it all
right 'til I dumped an old fuzzy caterpillar into the box, and then they
tumbled over on their backs and squirmed and kicked like everything! If
I could find one now I could show you how they kick."

"Oh, please don't," said Polly quickly, "I wouldn't like to see them

"Then let's slide down your front steps," said Gwen. "Come on! Slide the
way I do. I sit down on the top step and commence to slip. When I've
slid over three steps I turn over and slide three that way. I get
excited wondering whether I'll tear my frock, or only bump my knees.
Sometimes it's both, and sometimes it's neither!"

Polly could not imagine why such antics could be amusing, and she knew
that her mama would not like any such rough play.

"You don't seem to want to," said Gwen; "are you afraid of your clothes,
or don't you dare to risk the bumps?"

"I don't think mama would like it," Polly said, gently, "but I'll play
'Hide-and-Seek' with you, or any game you like."

"Oh, I don't care for those old games," said Gwen, "so I'll tell you
what we'll do. Come over to the stable and you get your coachman to let
us have the horse and the cow. You ride the horse barebacked and I'll
ride the cow. Come on! Don't be a fraidie cat!"

"Oh, dear," said Polly, "I know you won't like it, but I don't want to
do that."

She saw Gwen's eyes snap, and knew that she was angry.

"I'll get my boat, and I'll let you sail it if you'd like to, in the
brook," she said.

She did not enjoy her little guest, but she wished to be kind.

"I WOULDN'T like to," Gwen said, rudely, "sailing boats isn't lively. I
guess as long as you don't want to play any jolly things I'll go home. I
meant to shingle the cat's fur this morning, and I'll do that. I'm going
to wet it sopping wet, part it in the middle from his head to his tail,
and then shingle it all but his tail!"



Of course, Gwen told Inez that she had been up to Sherwood Hall and that
she thought it very dull.

"I wouldn't care to have such a big, BIG house," she said, "'n I
wouldn't want such a big garden."

It was a silly speech to make, because it was not true, and no one could
believe it.

Her own house was fine, but no dwelling in the town could compare with
grand, stately Sherwood Hall, and Gwen Harcourt knew that.

"Polly wouldn't play anything, so I came home," she said.

"Why, that's odd," said Inez, "she's always willing to play games."

"Oh, well, she wanted to play 'Hide-and-Seek' and that's too stupid.
Let's play 'Tag' and see how hard we can run. You can make ever so much
noise if you stamp your feet when you run on the asphalt. Le' me count!"

Inez did not dare to object.

"Eena, mena, mina, moot,
Le'me catch you by the foot;
Fill your eyes and mouth with soot,
Pull a tree up by the root.

"Hit you with a speckled trout,
Pull your hair to make it sprout;
Though you grumble, also pout,
One, two, three, and you are out."

"There!" said Gwen, "now you're it, so we'll begin to play."

"Why, how can I be 'it' when you said I was 'out?'" questioned Inez.

"'Cause I SAY so, that's all," said Gwen, coolly, and Inez dared not say
a word. She knew if she did that Gwen would be provoked and would
probably go home.

She was a little tyrant and anyone who wish to play with her must do as
she said if she cared for peace.

"Run, now!" she cried. "Run! But you can't catch me!"

Truly, she was fleet footed.

Up the long driveway, around the house, past old Towser's kennel,
pausing just long enough to kick it in order that he might growl, up the
front steps and along the piazza, over its railing, across a bed of
choice flowering plants, breaking some, and crushing many, around the
summer house and through the grape arbor, shouting like a little wild
Indian, she ran, and Inez could not get near enough to touch her.

"You're slow!" cried Gwen, "slower than an old cow! You can't run like
anything, so we might as well sit down!"

In truth, she was tired but she would not say so. It pleased her far
better to find fault with Inez.

"When YOU get rested," she said, "we might climb up onto your barn and
crawl into the cupola."

"Ye'll not be doin' that, young lady," said the gardener, who, as he was
passing, had heard what she had said. "It's not safe, an' I know Mr.
Varney'd not allow it."

"Horrid old thing!" said Gwen. "Who do you mean?" Inez asked, sharply.

"The gardener, of course," snapped Gwen.

"I guess I'll go home," she said, a moment later, and although Inez
coaxed her, she would not remain nor would she say why she had decided
to go.

Whenever she wearied of a place she left it, refusing to remain or
explain why she would not stay. Inez looked after the little flying

"I hate to have her go, but I couldn't run every minute," she said.

One sunny afternoon, Lena and Rob, Leslie and Harry were sitting on the
lawn, listening to Polly's story of floating in a little boat out to the
open sea. Of how she and Rose did not dream how naughty the boy, Donald,
had been until they were so far out that they could hardly see the

The boys thought it very exciting, and this was not the first time that
they had heard it. Indeed, they had often asked her to tell it, and each
time they had found it as interesting as when they first had listened to

"Now tell us about the first moment that you saw the Dolphin," said Rob.

Gwen Harcourt, seeing the group on the lawn, wondered what they were
talking about.

There was but one way to find out, and she chose to take it. She ran up
the path that led to where the little group was sitting and dropped on
the grass beside Harry Grafton.

She listened to the story, but she did not think it at all amusing.

Anyone who knew Gwen would know that it could not interest her. She
cared for no story of which she was not the heroine.

When the tale was finished and the playmates were telling Polly how fine
a story it was, Gwen, speaking very loudly, made herself heard; she
usually did.

"Everybody listen while I tell a story that'll scare you 'till you most
can't breathe. It's a true story, too!"

"Go ahead, Gwen," said Rob.

"Yes, tell it!" said Harry. "I don't mind being scared if you can do

She needed no urging.

"One time when I was little---" she commenced, but Harry interrupted.

"When was that?" he asked.

"Stop, Harry!" whispered Leslie.

"One time, when I was LITTLER than I am now, I went into our parlor all
alone when it was almost dark, and looked at the pictures. Mama has ever
so many, and some of them are landscapes and some of them are portraits.

"The one I liked to look at scared me every time I saw it. It was a big,
tall lady dressed in yellow and she had a feather fan.

"When I saw her in the bright daylight I thought she moved SOME, but
whenever I looked at her when it was almost dark she seemed to move

Gwen paused to see if the other children were impressed, and looked up
just in time to see Rob Lindsey "nudge" his sister. Her eyes flashed.

"Well, p'raps you don't believe it, Rob Lindsey, but I SAW it, and I
guess I know!" she said.

"Go on, Gwen," said Rob, who was a great tease, "I only touched Lena's
arm to let her know the 'scare' part of the yarn was coming."

Thus reassured, Gwen continued her story.

"Well, this time I'm telling 'bout, the lady in the yellow gown looked
at me, and--WAVED her fan!"

"Hot day?" questioned Rob, but Gwen chose not to notice what he said.

"She waved her big feather fan slower and slower, and then--she walked
RIGHT OUT OF THE PICTURE and came down on the floor!"

"Oh--o!" said Princess Polly, and "Oh--oo--oo!" said Lena, but Rob asked
a question.

"Did your fine lady come down on the floor in a heap?"

"Did she BUST her feather fan?" questioned Harry Grafton.

"You're not nice to laugh when I'm telling a story," said Gwen, "and I
guess you wouldn't have laughed if you'd BEEN there!"

"Why, what happened?" Lena asked, partly because she was curious and
partly to be kind.

"I'll never know just what did truly happen, because just as she came
toward me, I was so scared I fainted, and when I came to, the lady had
vanished, but the big hole in the canvas showed JUST WHERE SHE'D STOOD!"

"Why Gwen Harcourt! You know that story's a fib story all the way
through!" said Harry.

"'Tis NOT!" said Gwen, "and I guess I know!"

She sprang from the grass, and ran down the driveway.

"I guess when you see the big frame, and the picture with a big hole in
it just the shape of the lady, that showed where she WAS, I guess you'll
HAVE to b'lieve it," she said, and having said this to the boys that had
teased her, she hurried down the avenue.

"Oh, what an awful story!" said Polly, "it made me feel like shivering,
and I was glad the boys were with us."

"If Gwen Harcourt likes to tell such stories, she can," said Leslie,
"but she needn't say they're true."

"Oh, but perhaps SOME of it---" Polly stopped. She had meant to speak
kindly, but what part of so silly a story could be true?

"You've been in her parlor, Leslie," said Harry, "did YOU see the
picture with the big hole in it, just where the fine lady stepped out
from the frame? Leslie, HAVE you?"

"Yes," admitted Leslie, "I've been there."

"WAS the big picture with the big hole in it hanging there?" he asked.

"N--NO!" said Leslie, "and I'll tell you all something. A lady that mama
knows heard some of Gwen's stories, and she told Mrs. Harcourt what
perfectly awful things Gwen was telling, and Mrs. Harcourt said that she
was very glad, and thankful that Gwen had such great imagination, and
said she wouldn't, for the world do anything to check it, because it's a
SURE sign she'll be something fine some day.

"Mrs. Harcourt said it was just wonderful what a strong imagination Gwen
had, and she said she thought she would be either an author, or a play
writer, or something great."

"And papa, when he heard that, said he'd want to be careful lest she
grow up to be an awful liar!" said Harry.

"Oh, hush!" said Leslie, "papa said falsifier or some name like that."

"Well, that's the same thing," said Harry.

The little friends talked of Gwen, and the stories that she told.

The boys thought them ridiculous, and laughed at the idea that she
expected her playmates to believe them, but neither Polly, Lena, nor
Leslie could see it that way.

"I wouldn't mind the stories," Polly said, "because anyone can make up
stories just for fun, but I do hate to have her say they're TRUE."

"And she sticks to it," said Harry.

"That's it," said Lena, "she says they're true, and she dared us to come
down to her house, and see the picture!"

Gwen was safe in daring them, for not one of the little friends liked
her well enough to go to her home, none save Inez, and Inez had not
heard the story about the picture.

One sunny morning Polly ran along the avenue to overtake Lena Lindsey.

"Lena! Lena!" she cried, "wait for me! I've a letter from Rose," she
said, as she walked along with Lena.

"Which way are you going?" Lena asked, "I want to hear what she says."

"I wasn't going anywhere 'til I saw you," said Polly.

"Then come along the path through the grove," said Lena, "and we'll stop
on the bridge, and enjoy the letter there."

They ran along the path together, the sunbeams making Jack-o-lanterns at
their feet. Light branches swayed in the wind, and through the dancing
leaves the sunlight sifted, making Lena's hair a brighter brown, and
Polly's flaxen ringlets like pale gold.

They reached the little bridge, and paused to watch the clear, rippling
brook, as it ran beneath it, and out through the tiny grove.

Humming a melody all its own, it made its zigzag way between birches,
and alders, maples, and elderblow, carrying on its shining surface stray
leaves, and water spiders that struggled to see which first should reach
the sunlit meadow land beyond.

"Now, read the letter," said Lena, "and does she say when she's coming

"Oh, you hark, while I read," said Polly, taking from its envelope, the
letter that she had, already, read three times.

Lena listened with delight. It would be an event to have little Rose
Atherton come to Avondale! She told of Uncle John's frequent visits, and
of long drives enjoyed with him.

"And here's something that made me laugh," said Polly.

"I told you about Evangeline Longfellow Jenks," she continued, "and
she's written some more verses, and Rose copied this one. Just listen
while I read it."

Polly took a slip of paper from the envelope, and read this absurd verse
that was written upon it:

[Illustration with caption: "Lena listened with delight."]

"I'm to be a poet when I get big,
And I'll write a book that's bigger'n me.
My poems I make now are to practice on,
But when I'm big they'll be fine to see."

"Does she think THAT'S poetry?" said Lena, laughing because the verse
was so absurd that she could not help it.

"If you think that one is funny, just listen to this," said Polly,
turning the slip over, and reading from the other side.

"The sea is wet, and so is the brook;
The earth swings round and round.
The cat's asleep, and so are my feet,
So I'll write no more till anon."

"Why, what DOES she mean?" said Lena, when she could stop laughing long
enough to ask.

"I don't know," said Polly, laughing as heartily as Lena did, "and the
funny thing is that Evangeline says anyone could write poetry that folks
understand. She says it's just TWICE as bright to make verses that
NOBODY could understand!

"I wouldn't want to have to play with her, and Rose says she runs away
whenever she sees Evangeline coming," said Polly.

"I should think she would run," said Lena, "I would."

After the sweet little letter had been read, and Lena had asked for a
second reading, Polly put it back into its envelope, and they talked of
what Rose had written.

"Only think," said Polly, "her Aunt Rose doesn't wish her to be away
from the house to go to school, so she's to have a private tutor at
home, a music teacher, and a dancing teacher, and they're all to
come to her house. She won't be in school with other little girls at

"I wouldn't like that," said Lena, "we have fine times together when
school commences, and I don't believe I'd like teachers that came to my
house. Well, I don't mean I wouldn't like the teachers, but I think it's
more fun to go to school."

"I don't see how she's ever to get acquainted with other little girls,"
said Polly, "I think it sounds very lonesome!"

"So do I," said Lena, "but perhaps she doesn't. We'll know when she
comes to your house, because I'm most sure she'll tell us."

"And we'll go to school the third week of next month," said Polly, "and
Rose isn't to begin her lessons until two weeks later than that. She's
coming to stay with me and spend the two weeks. Oh, won't we have fun?"

"Fun?" said Lena, "we'll do every fine thing we can think of. I'll tell
Rob, and he'll help us make it jolly. He always does, and he likes Rose
as well as we do."

"And who's Lester Jenks?" Lena asked, "is he the poetry girl's brother?"

"Oh, no, he's her cousin, and he's full of fun, and fine to play with,"
said Polly, "and he thinks Evangeline is pokey, and he laughs at her
poetry. I didn't laugh at it, and I don't think he was nice to. I told
him so, and he only laughed harder."

"He told Rose to tell me that he's going to send me a Valentine this
year, and he says he's found a new place to get ice cream just a little
way from where Rose lives. He says when I'm at her house the next time,
he'll buy ice cream almost every day."

"Isn't he generous? And he says: 'Tell Princess Polly to hurry up and
come,' and Rose says she can hardly wait 'til she sees me."

"Oh, Polly!" cried Lena, as a happy thought occurred to her, "if she's
to be here when school has commenced, you can bring her to school.
Teacher'll let us have guests.

"I'm glad you read the letter to me, because it makes it seem as if Rose
was right here."

"And almost before you know it, she WILL be!" cried Polly, with a gay
little laugh.

"I'll have to run along now," said Lena, "because Rob gave me this note
to take to Harry Grafton, and I said I'd rush over there to give it to
him. I forgot all about it when I stopped to hear Rose's letter. I guess
I'd have stopped just the same, if I'd remembered Rob's note!" she said,
and her brown eyes twinkled, as she looked over her shoulder on her way
down the path.

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