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- Princess Polly's Playmates - 6/23 -

It was an odd sight, the two merry little faces puckered into an attempt at a frown, and the old portrait looking down at them, as if in surprise that their smiles had vanished.

"Now, let's both smile together!" cried Rose.

Immediately two pairs of merry eyes looked up at him, and two red mouths smiled, and showed rows of pearly teeth.

"There!" said Polly, "he ALMOST laughed, and that dimple in his chin looked DIMPLER than before."

"That's what I told you," said Rose, "and sometimes, when I'm lonesome, he's a comfort."

At lunch Aunt Rose talked much with Polly, and gentle Aunt Lois seemed charmed with the little guest.

When lunch was over, Aunt Rose left the little playmates to amuse themselves, because she felt sure that Polly must have a budget of news to tell, and they certainly would enjoy their bit of gossip better, if no older person listened.

They spent the afternoon in the garden, walking along, their arms about each other's waists.

Later they would care for games, but this first day was delightful just to talk together.

They passed a little arbor, and Polly stopped to admire it.

Just as she looked up at the vine that blossomed on its roof, a strange little face peeped over the hedge, then dodged out of sight.

"Who was that?" Polly asked.

"Who? Where?"

"Just behind the hedge," whispered Polly.

Rose looked, and in an opening at the lower part of the hedge she saw a bit of a dark gray frock.

"Oh, it's Evangeline Longfellow Jenks, the little girl that's going to be a poet," whispered Rose.

"But you said her poetry was funny," said Polly, as softly as Rose had spoken.

"It IS" declared Rose, "but she keeps writing it all the time."

Just then Evangeline's round, white face again appeared above the hedge, and at that moment Aunt Rose came out on the porch.

"Come over here, Evangeline," she said kindly, "and meet our little guest."

"I'm not dressed up," said the voice behind the hedge, "but I've just made a poem, and I can read it from here!"

Without waiting to be urged, and in a thin, high-pitched voice, she read these lines, which she earnestly believed were beautiful:

"Oh, the sun is shining, And the moon is near by; I can't see the moon, But it's in the sky- Somewhere.

"I need no sun or moon; I'll be a poet soon. I write every day Some kind of a lay- Somewhere."

"What DOES she mean?" whispered Polly.

"I don't think it means ANYTHING, but she enjoys making up verses whether they mean anything or not," Rose whispered in reply.

Polly was anxious to see what the little girl looked like who felt that she was to be a poet, but Evangeline Longfellow Jenks did not intend to be seen in an ordinary frock.

She felt that her position as a future poet demanded that she be finely dressed.

On this especial morning she had been doing a very unpoetic thing--she had been trying to drink from the hose!

Her skirts were completely soaked, and her shoes were covered with mud that the dripping hose had splashed up from the garden bed.

"A person like ME ought not to drink from a horrid old hose. My mama read about some one, I've forgotten who, who drank from a crystal chalice. I don't know what that is, but it sounds grand, and I wish I had one," murmured the small girl behind the hedge.

Aunt Rose repeated her invitation, but the poetic child seldom thought it necessary to be polite, and never replied unless she chose to. This time she remained silent, and Aunt Rose, with an odd little smile returned to the house.

Then a strange thing happened.

Another face peeped over the hedge, but this time it was a saucy one, with bright, brown eyes that fairly danced with merriment.

"Reg'lar ninny, ain't she?" he asked, with a chuckle.

"Oh, Lester, you MUSTN'T!" cried Rose.

"Yes, I must!" said the boy. "She sneaked off into the house when you weren't looking, so she can't hear me, and when she's too far off to hear, I have to call her some kind of a horrid name, 'cause it helps me some!"

"But she's your own cousin, and you oughtn't, you know. If it isn't wicked, it MUST be naughty to call her a ninny," said Rose.

"I wish she wasn't my cousin, I ain't fond of her," said the boy, with a frown on his handsome face.

"She did a mean thing this morning, and I'll get even with her," he continued, "and when she wrote one of her everlasting old poems about me, it was more than I could stand. Just read it and I guess you won't blame me."

He thrust a crumpled bit of paper over the hedge.

Rose ran to the hedge, and took the paper. She was curious to know what kind of a poem Lester had inspired.

Who could blame her that she laughed when she read the ridiculous lines?

"Lester's a boy, but he's not brave; The cat scratched him, and he cried. He's not the kind of a boy I like Although I've often tried.

His eyes are brown, but I don't care; His freckles are yellow, and so is his hair. He teases, so he has no heart, And he runs after the old ice-cart."

"Could a fellow stand THAT? said Lester, his cheeks very red.

"It wasn't nice," said Rose, "and Lester, wait a moment," as the boy turned to go.

"This is Polly Sherwood, my best friend. Polly, this is Lester Jenks. He's a nice boy, only he's provoked this morning."

Polly offered her little hand over the hedge, and Lester blushed, and took it.

"Are you the little princess?" he asked bluntly.

"Just a make-believe one," said Polly.

"We all call her 'Princess Polly' at home," Rose explained.

"You look right to be called that anywhere," said Lester, and it was Polly's turn to blush.

"I'd like to come over some day," he said.

"Come NOW," said Rose.

"I wish I could, but I can't," said the boy. "I've an errand to do for my aunt, and I ought to go now. I'll come some other day, perhaps to- morrow. I've some money, and I'd like to treat."

He looked admiringly at Polly, and Rose was delighted.

"He's ever so much fun," she said, when Lester had gone to do the errand that he had spoken of.

"He lives the next house to Evangeline," she continued, "and he's awfully tired of her poetry."

Polly did not wonder at that.

"And I DO hope, when he comes, Evangeline won't come with him," said Rose.

"So do I," agreed Polly, "only it may be that she's nice SOMETIMES."

Rose came closer, and looking straight into Polly's blue eyes, she said:

"She brings her old poetry book EVERY time!"

"Oh, dear, can't she leave it at home?" said Polly.

"She WON'T," said Rose, "and she's either writing in it, or reading it all the time, so there's not a minute for play."

"Doesn't she care for 'Tag' or 'Hide-and-Seek?'" questioned Polly.

"She doesn't EVER like anything but that poetry," declared Rose.

Princess Polly's Playmates - 6/23

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