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- Princess Polly's Playmates - 4/23 -
"He thought only of the beautiful nymph, and he slashed at the big ogre, and with the third blow from his sword the ogre fell dead.
"Then the prince rode back to the fountain, and there stood the nymph, only she wasn't a nymph any more, but a real, truly princess.
"She ran to meet him, and he swung her up into his saddle, and they rode back to his castle.
"There she told him that he need never leave her to seek his fortune, because she had more gold than they could ever spend, and so they lived happy ever after."
"Oh, I love to have the fairy tales end like that," said Lena, with a happy sigh.
"And when a fellow hears of a prince who is daring, he wants to start right out, and do something just as brave," said Rob, his brown eyes looking out across to the distant hills. "There isn't the chance to save nymphs, and princesses, now!"
"Oh, Rob, it doesn't matter," said Polly, "for if there was a nymph to fight for, I just KNOW you'd be brave!"
"I'm SURE I would mean to be, but I haven't had the chance to try!" said Rob, with a sudden fit of shyness, "but if it was YOU, Polly, I'd--I'd do most anything!"
"I know you would," Polly answered gently.
"That was a lovely story," said Lena, "did you make it up?"
"Yes, and I got so excited when the ogre came out, and rushed at the prince, that I was all out of breath just TELLING it," said Polly.
"And when you told about the gale you frightened me," said Lena, "because I was SURE that the ogre was coming!"
Polly had a charming way of telling her stories, and those who listened, remembered them, and thought of them again and again.
Perhaps Rob thought oftener of them, than did any other of her friends. He was very fond of Polly, and never thought of her as Polly Sherwood, but always as Princess Polly.
He would not have told his thoughts to anyone, but in his heart he longed to do something brave that she might know that he had not boasted idly, when he had said that her fairy tales had made him long to do valiant deeds.
For days after the morning spent at Sherwood Hall, Rob dreamed of the story that Polly had told.
"Oh, pshaw! Those things don't happen nowadays," he muttered, in disgust. "Not that fairy things EVER happened," he added, "but knights really lived, and they did things that proved their courage."
While Rob dreamed, and pondered over the valiant knights of old, Polly, blowing huge soap bubbles, stood in the sunlight, making them larger and larger, and laughing when they floated away on the soft breeze.
She, too, was dreaming.
The scent of the garden flowers made the air sweet, the yellow butterflies, at play in the sunshine, fluttered too near a bubble.
It burst with the touch of their soft wings, and they flew away, frightened that a clear, beautiful globe had chased them, and then so mysteriously disappeared.
Vivian Osborne watched her, and so still had she been, that Polly had almost forgotten that she was there.
Again she dipped her pipe into the bowl of suds, and gently she blew, determined to make a larger bubble than she had yet made.
How beautiful it was! The trees, the blue sky mirrored on its glossy surface, and--yes, there were the holly-hocks reflected on it, and curving to fit its globe-like form.
"Oh!" cried Vivian, "see the colors on it, blue, and pink, and green, and your house, Polly. Don't it look like a tiny castle?'
"M--m," agreed Polly, for the pipe stem between her red lips would not permit her to talk. When the bubble was as large as she dared to make it, she swung it from the pipe and they saw it sail away.
Sir Mortimer, who had been watching Polly, scampered off after the bubble. He often chased a bright, colored ball, and this he thought was the finest ball he'd ever seen.
It dropped to the grass, and just as puss reached it, it burst. Sir Mortimer stared at the place where it had vanished.
Polly and Vivian laughed at his surprise. He touched the spot with his soft paw, then, turning, trotted away, as if to let them see that the matter was beneath noticing.
"Oh, he's the dearest kitty!" cried Vivian, "blow another bubble, Polly, and blow it right at him."
Laughing at the thought of surprising Sir Mortimer, Polly blew a fine bubble, and swung it toward him.
He blinked at it, as it came nearer, and then,--oh, how they laughed, he began to back away from it.
It overtook him, however, and landed squarely on his upturned nose.
He sneezed in disgust, and rubbed his nose violently with his paw.
"Oh, Mortimer darling, I won't do it again. If you don't like soap bubbles, you needn't have them," said Polly, picking him up, and caressing him.
It was evident that he forgave her, for he at once commenced to purr.
When Vivian said that she must go, Polly walked part of the way with her for company.
"Are you truly going to visit Rose Atherton, soon? Inez Varney said you were," said Vivian.
"Oh, yes," Polly replied, "I have the invitation, and I'm to go the first week mama will let me. I may go next week. When I KNOW what day I can go, I'm to write, and tell Rose, and Rose, with her Aunt, will call for me at the station."
"Aren't you wild to go"?" asked Vivian.
"Wild?" repeated Polly, "why I can hardly wait for the day. I want to see the lovely, old house, and all the fine things, but most of all, I long to see Rose."
"Well, Inez said--no, I guess I won't tell you what Inez said," Vivian paused.
Did she dislike to repeat Inez' words, or was she waiting for Polly to coax her to tell them? No one could have guessed.
Polly, thinking that Inez often spoke unpleasantly, turned toward Vivian, and laying her little hand on her arm, said:
"I guess you'd better not tell what Inez said. I won't feel any different toward Rose, if you do. I love Rose, and I'm going to visit her, and I know I'll have a fine time."
"Oh, I'm sure you will," said Vivian, and she said it as if she meant it.
"And Rose is coming to visit me," said Polly, "and when she comes, most of the girls will be glad to see her. I wish they ALL would."
"_I_ will," said Vivian, "and you'll see that I am. I'll help to make her glad that she came."
Some one came running swiftly behind them, and they turned to see who it might be.
It was Harry Grafton, breathless and excited.
"Oh, what do you think?" he cried. "Dollie Burton got almost run over, and would have, if it hadn't been for Rob Lindsey. I tell you, he's a splendid fellow, and my father saw it all, and he says it was the bravest thing he ever saw done, and he shook hands with Rob, and little Dollie is only frightened, but she's almost--"
"Why, Harry Grafton! What ARE you saying?" cried Polly.
"What has happened to Dollie?" said Vivian.
At that moment Leslie came running to tell the news.
"Only think!" she cried, "dear little Dollie Burton was almost--"
"That's what I just told them!" declared Harry, "and I'm proud just to be Rob's friend."
Polly and Vivian were as excited as Harry and his sister were, and for a few moments the four little playmates talked at the same time, and Polly at last realized that she was not getting a clear idea of what Rob had done, or what had happened to wee Dollie Burton.
At last Harry grew calmer, and, with Leslie's help, told the story.
Little Dollie had been playing in her own garden, where surely one might think that she was safe. A horse from a neighbor's stable had escaped, and went plunging down the street.
The tiny girl ran down the driveway to look after the flying horse, and just as Dollie reached the road, the horse turned, and ran wildly back in the direction whence he had come.
The little girl seemed too frightened to run, and stood still in the path of the madly racing horse.
Rob Lindsey seeing her danger, sprang out into the street, snatched her up when the animal was about to trample upon her, and bore her to safety setting her down once more in her own garden.
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