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- Princess Polly's Playmates - 3/23 -


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.


Princess Polly's Playmates - 3/23

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