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- Princess Polly's Gay Winter - 4/21 -


vines peeping in at the windows, and she wondered how it had happened that she now possessed such dear friends, who vied with each other in making her their little guest.

She opened her suit case, and took from it a pale blue frock, with a ribbon of the same tint for her hair.

The frock was of soft mull, and its coloring was like that of a pale aqua marine.

She combed out her long, waving hair, and quickly tied it with the blue ribbon, then, her hand tightly clasped in Polly's, descended the stairs.

Arthur Sherwood entered the hall just in time to see the two pretty figures on the stairway.

"Well, well, and so the little sea nymph has come to live at Sherwood Hall for a time. My dear little Sprite, I am truly glad to see you."

He took the slender hand that she offered him, and the three chatted gaily until dinner was served.

The fine dinner, exquisitely served, was a rare treat for Sprite, and the pleasant evening that followed made her at once feel that she was, already, a part of the family.

In her room, after the happy evening, Sprite wrote a loving letter to the dear father and mother at the home by the sea.

She addressed it, and placed the stamp upon it, and then gave it a place on the dresser where she would surely see it in the morning, and thus remember to post it.

Princess Polly would liked to have kept awake to talk, but Sprite was very tired, and soon her answers became so drowsy that Polly knew that she needed sleep and rest. Little Sprite had been the first to drop to sleep, but, accustomed to early rising, she was the first to wake. She slipped from her bed, glanced at Polly, saw that she had not yet awakened, and quietly began to dress. She had learned, the evening before, that there was a mail box just across the street, and she now picked up the letter, and made her way down to the lower hall. The door stood wide open, only the screen door was fastened.

The maid, a few moments before, had opened the door that the fresh air might pass through the hall. Sprite slipped out into the garden, her letter in her hand.

She ran a short distance, then as the sunlight touched the glowing blossoms, she paused and looked about her.

Oh, what a fairy world it was! Her home at the shore had been placed on a broad stretch of sand, and only a few of the residences at Cliffmore boasted a flower, or tree on its grounds.

Now, with the garden gay with geraniums, tall gladioli, dahlias, and scarlet salvia, she looked in amazement and delight at the riot of color.

"Oh, how beautiful it is here!" she said.

Suddenly she remembered her precious letter.

She ran across the street, and slipped it in the box.

"There you go, and you'll tell the two dearest people in the world that I got here safely, and that everyone was dear to me. You'll tell them that I love them too."

Her heart was lighter, because now she knew that the letter that the dear ones at home were looking for, would soon be on its way.

She hurried back to the garden, where she sat for a long time watching the bees as they hovered over the flowers.

She would not go back to her room for fear of waking Polly, and she knew that she should not wander about the vacant lower rooms, so she decided to wait in the garden, until Princess Polly should come down.

She clasped her hands about her knee, and sat lost in a day dream. Her long rippling hair fell over her shoulders, and she made a lovely picture as she sat thinking of her home at the shore.

"The cliffs are white in the bright sunlight by this time," she said, softly, lest someone might hear her, "and the big gulls are flying over the water, or dropping to float on the crest of the waves.

"It is beautiful at home, and grand here at Avondale.

"I wonder if anyone knows if one is really finer than the other. They're so different."

Then again she sat dreaming. Sir Mortimer came around the corner of the house, and went straight to Sprite for the caress everyone offered him. He listened to her sweet voice as she told him what a fine cat he was, he arched his back, and purred his loudest.

After a time he lay down on the grass beside her, taking his morning sunbath.

Princess Polly, in the meantime, had awakened and missed Sprite. She dressed hastily.

As she passed the window a soft voice talking to Sir Mortimer made her pause and look out. She leaned from the window.

"Oh, there you are!" she cried. "I missed you, and I couldn't guess where you were. I'll come right down to the garden." She flew down the stairs, and out into the sunlight.

Sprite ran to meet her, and with their arms about each other, they paced up and down the broad piazza.

Sir Mortimer blinked at them as he sat in the sunlight, as if he approved of their merry chatter. Possibly he thought it fine that there were to be two little girls at Sherwood Hall to pet him.

"The garden is so lovely," Sprite said, as they paused to look out across the lawn.

"Come!" cried Polly. "I'll show you all the prettiest places."

The big cat followed them, trotting along the gravel walk, pausing whenever they did, as if all that Polly was showing was new to him.

And when they had admired the rippling brook that ran through the garden, the tall white lilies standing in queenly grace beside the stone wall, the terraces crowned with rose bushes, and the gorgeous beds of geraniums, they ran back to the piazza, and seated themselves in the hammock that swung in the breeze.

"Do you remember any of the pretty songs you used to sing last Summer when we were out on the beach, or sitting on the ledge?" Polly asked.

"There's one I always like to sing when I'm in a dory," Sprite said.

"Then let's rock this hammock, and play it's a dory, and while we're swinging, you sing," Polly said.

With a voice in which a thrill of happiness made wondrous music, little Sprite sang:

"Bright is the sky above us, Blue is the sea below. Seagulls are hovering 'round us Fluttering to and fro.

Faith is the sky above us, The sea is the earth below. Gulls are the friends who love us, Following where'er we go.

Sunshine above, around us, White caps floating by, None in the world is happier Than you, my love, and I."

CHAPTER III

GWEN

Little Sprite Seaford felt so completely "at home," that it seemed to her as if she had always lived at Avondale. There were times when she felt homesick. At early morning, before Polly was awake, she would lie with wide open eyes, gazing around the lovely room, and missing the dear voices that always greeted her so cheerily. At twilight, when the shadows grew deeper, there would be a longing for the dear ones at home, and her loving little heart would ache, and she would have to struggle to keep back the tears.

She knew, however, that she must be a bright, cheerful little guest. Had not dear father and mother said so?

Throughout the sunny days she was the life of the merry playmates who lived so near that they were always together. Polly and Rose she had played with at the shore in the Summer, and at the children's party that Mrs. Sherwood had given, she had met the boys and girls who had come from Avondale for that evening.

They had all liked the "little Sea Nymph," as they had called her, and now were glad to renew the acquaintance.

There was one small girl who, thus far, had shown no interest in Polly's guest, and that was Gwen Harcourt.

She had seen Sprite with Polly, and her playmates, but she had watched them from a distance.

From her own piazza she could look across to Sherwood Hall, and see the children at play.

In a few days she had tired of watching the merry friends, and she longed to join them. She had heard Lena Lindsey say that Sprite was charming.

Leslie Grafton, only the day before, had said that one reason why she


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