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- Princess Polly's Playmates - 5/23 -
"My father was just coming along," said Harry, "and he saw Rob rush out into the street, and grab Dollie just in time to save her, and he says Rob stood an awful chance of being run over.
"Rob declares it wasn't much to do. He says he didn't have time to think, and be scared.
"Father took his hand, and just told him that that was the brave part of it. He told Rob that a coward would have thought only of himself.
"I tell you, he's a hero, as much as those we read of.
"Mrs. Burton says that she can not say enough to tell how she feels, when she thinks that little Dollie is alive, and unhurt, and all because of Rob!"
"There he is now," cried Leslie.
"Oh, everyone run along. I want to speak to him just a minute myself," said Polly, and, as usual, they obeyed.
Very shyly Rob approached. He felt that he was receiving too much praise from everyone, and yet--a word of approval from Princess Polly, ah, that would be worth much!
"Rob," she said, when the others had walked along, "Rob, don't ever say again that you'd LIKE to be brave. You ARE brave!"
"She wasn't a nymph, and I wasn't a prince," said the boy, blushing.
"You're as brave as any prince in any fairy tale I ever read," said Polly, and Rob wondered who would care for greater reward than that.
POLLY VISITS ROSE
At last the day came when Polly was to make the little trip that would begin at the station in her own town, and end at a place, some miles distant, where, when the train stopped, she would see Rose waiting for her.
She thought it would seem finer to go quite alone, but Mrs. Sherwood would not permit that.
"The maid must ride with you, and remain beside you until Rose and her aunt meet you. Then, she can return on the next train," she had said, and Polly knew it was useless to object.
And when, at last, the excitement of saying "good-bye" was over, and the train had already left the little town far behind, Polly settled back in her seat, and fell to dreaming.
The thought of little Dollie, frightened, but unhurt, of Rob who had so bravely saved her, of Lena's pride in Rob, flitted through her mind. It would be a pleasant bit of news to tell Rose.
Then she began to think of Great-Aunt Rose, and to wonder how she looked.
"Rose has told me in her letter that she's a handsome old lady, but that isn't like seeing her. How ever SHALL I know her? Oh, of course, I will. She'll be with Rose."
The maid, who had taken the seat behind Polly, reached forward, and touched her shoulder.
"You're not getting drowsy, are you, Miss Polly?" she asked, "we're almost there."
A gay little laugh answered her question.
"How COULD I go to sleep on the way to see Rose?" she asked, "and how near are we now?"
"The next station, but one," said the maid, "and I'll begin to gather up the bag, and suit case."
"The next but one!" cried Polly, and she sat up very straight, and looked from the window. Was the town where Rose lived as pretty as this?
There were great trees that cast long shadows, and here, and there a glimpse of a river that reflected the blue sky, and the floating clouds. There were fine houses with spacious lawns, and lovely gardens, and over all the sunlight playing, and Polly felt that she was riding into an enchanted country, over which Rose, and Great-Aunt Rose presided.
Polly did not notice what the brakeman said, but the maid did, and she spoke quickly.
"Come, Miss Polly, here we are, and we'll do well to get off right now before folks crowd toward the door. By the looks I think everyone means to stop here!"
It certainly looked as if the maid had spoken truly, for men reached for parcels that had been stowed in bundle racks, and women commenced to gather up hand bags, and wraps.
Polly wondered if anyone intended to remain in the car.
She slipped from the seat to the floor, and then, just as they stopped at the station, she turned and peeped from the window.
"Oh, there she is! There she is!" she cried, "and she's in a fine carriage with an old lady that looks like a portrait in our drawing room. Look! Look!"
"We can't stop to look," said the maid, "or we'll be left on the train."
"Oh, we CAN'T stay!" cried Polly, as she hurried toward the door.
She could not imagine anything more dreadful than to be detained on the train, and ride on, and on, while Rose would find no little friend to welcome.
She alarmed the maid by rushing down the steps, and across the platform, and she almost took Great-Aunt Rose's breath away, when she flew at Rose, and the two little girls embraced laughing, and yes, crying just a little at the same time.
A slender figure, a huge picturesque hat, and a mass of curling, flaxen hair, were all that Aunt Rose had seen, but now hand in hand, they were coming toward the carriage.
"A lovely face, surely," murmured Great-Aunt Rose, "a sweet, and lovely face."
"This is Princess Polly," said Rose, "and Polly, dear, this is my Great- Aunt Rose."
Aunt Rose, as she preferred to be called, offered her hand to Polly, who now stood beside the carriage. "I am so glad to see you, my dear," said the gentle old voice, and so cordially was it said, that Polly blushed, and smiled with delight.
She afterward told Lena Lindsey that she felt as if Aunt Rose were her own aunt, and that she had ALWAYS known her.
The ride to the house was along an avenue shaded with huge, old elm trees, and when they drew up at the house, Polly looked with round eyes at its grand, old portico, its great pillars, its terraces, and masses of lovely flowers.
Rose had said that the house was fine, but that had not told half the beauty of the grand, old mansion.
They sprang from the carriage, and Rose begged that she might run upstairs with Polly just a moment before lunch.
"I want to show her my room," she said, and Aunt Rose smiled, and nodded assent.
"Oh, Polly, Princess Polly!" she said, when they reached the pretty chamber, "it is so long since we've played together, and now--now I have you, all to myself. See the queer bed, with the canopy over it. The first night I came, I was afraid to sleep in it. Now, I like it, and to- night we'll cuddle close together in it, and draw the curtains."
"Oh, what fun!" cried Polly, "and we can play we're in a castle, and no one can enter, unless we let them!"
"Oh, yes, and we'll stay awake, oh, ever so long, just to talk," said Rose.
And when Polly had seen everything in the chamber that Rose wished to show, they ran down to the parlor to see the portraits.
"I'd like to see them all," said Polly, "but most of all I want to see the picture of the old gentleman that sometimes smiles at you."
Together they ran down the stairway to the parlor.
How cool it was! Vines that hung upon the piazza shaded the windows, and flickering sunbeams danced upon the polished floor, and brightened the color of the Persian rug.
The portraits seemed to look with interest at Polly, and she smiled back at them, and nodded as she passed them.
"They look like real people," she said, "and it doesn't seem polite to pass them without nodding."
"I know it," agreed Rose, "and I nod and smile at them, but the picture at the end of the room smiles more than the others do. Come, and see him."
Together they stood looking at the little old gentleman.
Polly admired his flowered satin waistcoat, his powdered wig, and rosy cheeks, but most of all she liked his merry, twinkling eyes.
"He DOES smile," said Polly.
"Yes, he does," agreed Rose, "but now, just for a moment, frown, and then he doesn't SEEM to smile."
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