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- Princess Polly's Gay Winter - 5/21 -
enjoyed playing with Sprite was because she was so _different_ from any girl that she knew.
What was this "_difference_" that Leslie spoke of?
Harry Grafton had declared that little Sprite was a trump.
"What's a _trump_?" said Gwen, as she sat swinging her feet, and looking up and down the avenue.
"What's a _trump_?"
She was perched on the top of the stone post at the entrance to the driveway, and watching intently for a glimpse of little Sprite.
She had been curious about the new little girl ever since the first day that she arrived at Avondale. _Now_, she was _determined_ to know her.
"If she'd go by while I'm sitting here I'd _make_ her come into my garden. I'd like to have her all to myself the first time I talk to her," she said softly.
Of course Gwen wished to meet Sprite when she was quite alone. Anyone who had ever known Gwen would know why.
She knew that all of her playmates were aware that she told very large stories, and that none of them were true.
If she had Sprite, quite by herself, she could tell what she chose. Luck favored her, for she had sat on the great post but a moment longer, when a soft voice singing made her look up.
Sprite, her hands filled with flowers, was coming toward her.
She was looking down at her blossoms, and did not notice the child on the post.
"Bright, glist'ning summer sea, Bring thou a ship to me, Sailing so gallantly over the main. Down deep within its hold Will there be bags of gold, Or sparkling gems untold, All, all for me? Now my heart cries to thee; Bring not from o'er the sea Bright glitt'ring gems for me, nor bags of gold. I'd rather have a heart, Mine from all else apart, From him I'd _never_ part, Love's more than gold."
Little Sprite Seaford had learned the song in her home by the sea. Its words were tender, its melody graceful and sweet, but Gwen Harcourt cared little for music. Her only thought was to startle Sprite. With this delightful thought in her mind, she waited until Sprite was about to pass the post, when she slipped to the ground directly in front of her, causing her to "jump," and drop half of her flowers.
"Oh, how you frightened me!" she cried, as Gwen peeped impudently right into her face.
"Mustn't be a 'fraidie cat'!" she cried, then--"Here! I'll pick up your flowers."
With haste she snatched the flowers from the sidewalk, and thrusting them into Sprite's hand, she said:
"This is where I live. Come in. I want to know you. My name is Gwen Harcourt. What's yours?"
"I am Sprite Seaford," was the gentle answer.
"My whole name is Gwendolen Armitage Harcourt. Rather grand, isn't it?" Gwen asked, her hands on her hips, and her feet wide apart.
"Mine is just Sprite Seaford," she said, quietly.
"Don't you wish you had a middle name?" said Gwen. "It sounds fine."
"I don't think I care," said Sprite.
Gwen was rather surprised that Sprite seemed little interested.
"Come over here," she said, "and I'll show you something I guess you never saw before."
Without waiting to learn if Sprite cared to go, Gwen grasped her arm, and literally tugged her inside the gateway.
"See these rose bushes?" she asked.
"Well, they're out of blossom now, but they had much as, oh, I guess a hundred roses on them all at one time!"
Then seeing Sprite's look of surprise, she decided to enlarge her story.
"I guess there must have been a _thousand_, now I think of it," she said. "Papa paid twenty dollars a piece for them, and maybe it was more than that. I'm not quite sure."
Sprite made no comment.
"And _I_ planted one of the bushes, and I'll tell you something real funny about it," Gwen said. "I planted it upside down just to see what it would do, and what do you s'pose? After it had been there 'bout a month I dug it up, and there were roses on it! It had blossomed down in the _dirt_! They were bigger than the ones that had been planted the right way, and they _might_ have been even bigger if I hadn't dug them up so soon."
Sprite's truthful eyes were looking straight into Gwen's bold blue ones. "Are you _sure_ that happened?" she asked.
"Well, what do you s'pose?" Gwen asked pertly, and then, without waiting for a reply she caught Sprite's hand and hurried with her into the great hall.
"I brought you in here to show you the pictures," she said, pointing to the family portraits that adorned the walls.
Sprite looked in admiration at the ladies in their quaint gowns of stiff brocade, and at the men in their lace frills, and satin waistcoats.
"The pictures are lovely," she said, "and are they portraits of people that really, truly lived once?"
"Oh, yes," cried Gwen, "and I'll tell you all about them.
"This lady with the pink gown was my great aunt Nora, and that man in the yellow waistcoat was my great uncle Nathan.
"That lady in green velvet was my great aunt Nina, and that young girl beside her was her daughter, Arline.
"That little old lady in velvet and lace was my great grandmother, and the next picture was my own grandma, and I've forgotten who that next one is, but the next lady's name was Jemima, and the one in yellow silk was Elvira, and the one in pink muslin was Honoriah, and the next one,--oh, let me think. What _was_ her name? Oh, I know, it was Anastasia."
"Why, their names grow worse, and worse the farther you go down the hall!" cried Sprite.
"Why no they don't," said Gwen, "for over on this wall, the first picture, this one of the lady with the dog is called Lucretia, and that next one's name was Abagail."
"Well, their gowns are lovely," said Sprite, "but didn't they use to have just horrid names?"
"My mamma says those names are 'quaint,'" Gwen replied, "but come and see this portrait of a little girl. Guess who that is?"
"Oh, how could I?" said Sprite, "I've never known your people."
Gwen moved along until she stood close beside her, then she looked straight into Sprite Seaford's eyes, and nodding as she spoke, and shaking her forefinger, she said in a whisper:
"That's a portrait of _me!_"
"Why--ee!" exclaimed Sprite.
"That _is_ a picture of me!" declared Gwen. "Do you _dare_ to say it doesn't look like me?"
Gwen's eyes were flashing, but the sea captain's little daughter was no coward.
"Of course I dare," she said, "for your eyes are blue, and your hair is light, while the little girl in the picture has brown eyes, and brown curling hair."
"How do you know that my hair hasn't been that color, some time or other?" Gwen asked sharply.
"I don't s'pose I do know," Sprite said simply, "but I don't _believe_ folks have brown hair and have it turn light yellow, and I don't believe brown eyes turn blue, so I don't see how that little girl in the picture is you."
Gwen was breathing fast. She was very angry, but she dared not say harsh words yet.
She wanted this little Miss Seaford to like her, and to be willing to play with her, so she only repeated: "I say that that little girl in the picture _is me_!"
Sprite turned toward the door.
"Princess Polly may be looking for me," she said, "so I'll go, now."
As she stepped out into the sunshine she remembered something that she should have said, and she turned.
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