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GRANDMOTHER'S CURTAINS

Mary L. Branch. Copyright by "The Youth's Companion."

EVER so many years ago, there was a little girl named Polly who lived out on a beautiful farm, where there were plenty of cows, and pigs, and chickens, and apple trees, and daisies.

Polly's grandmother lived in the town, in an old house—older than you ever saw, maybe, for it had been built more than two hundred years.

It had the great fireplace and chimney that used to be the fashion; and a great square parlor, with a wonderful fireboard; it had a pantry, where there were sure to be plenty of pies and seed-cookies; and it had, best of all, a nice, sunny "keeping-room," with deep-seated windows, where a little girl could play house [21] all day, and with grandmother's bed in the corner, hidden by great flowering chintz curtains that reached from the tester to the floor.

Polly loved the curtains more than anything else at grandmother's, for they were covered with bunches of roses, and little boy-angels sitting on clouds and playing on harps.

Once a week the farm horse was harnessed, and Polly and her mother went to see grandmother. But Polly never felt that she stayed long enough. She would just have started housekeeping in the window, perhaps; or have just reached the middle of a cooky; or have just caught the kitten, when her father would come in to say that his business was done, and they must go home before dark.

"O, mother, do let me stay all night!" Polly would say, but she never did stay, until one particular afternoon that I am going to tell you about.

"Where's Polly?" asked father, when he came in to hurry them off.

"Where's Polly?" asked mother, getting her little shawl and hood all ready.

"Why, here she is on my bed," said grandmother, as she looked behind the curtains, "and she's fast asleep! It is too bad to wake the lamb up. Do let her stay for once, Ann!"

Mother came to look, and she smiled a bit as she noticed a twitch in the eyelids, but it was snowing out-of-doors, and she thought, maybe, Polly would better stay, after all; so she said, cheerfully:

"Very well; we'll leave her, and her father can come for her to-morrow night."

So they went, and no sooner had the wagon fairly started than there was a shout, and a great peal of [22] laughter, and a rush, as Polly jumped off the bed, and flew to grandmother to give her a big hug.

"You're a little rogue," said grandmother, giving her a kiss.

"May I have jelly for supper?" asked Polly.

Of course she had jelly, and everything else she wanted, and after supper grandmother held her in her lap, and told her an old, old fairy story. Then grandmother undressed her, and loaned her one of her own nightgowns to sleep in, and Polly settled down in the great feather-bed, and knew no more until morning.

When she awoke, there were all the little angels looking at her, and the sun was shining in, and she could hear grandmother in the kitchen. In a minute Polly was there, too, watching the biscuit in the tin baker before the fire.

After breakfast she had a splendid time. First she went up to the garret with grandmother after the quilting-frame, and she hid inside the old clock for as much as five minutes, just for fun; and then she got a whole handful of dried peppermint to nibble.

While grandmother was getting her quilt in, downstairs, Polly kept house in the small window, and had all the broken bits of an old saucer for a tea set. By and by she moved to a new house, and where do you suppose it was? Under the great flower-basket quilt that was stretched upon the frame, and you haven't any idea, unless you have tried it, what a lovely house it makes. There Polly gathered her dishes, her rag baby and the cat, and was as happy as a queen.

Presently Mrs. Clark and Miss Avery came in with their thimbles to help grandmother to get her quilt done, and they all three talked and stitched, and forgot all about Polly.

[23] For a long time she watched the pretty diamonds as they appeared, one after another, on the roof of her house; and when she was tired of that there were Miss Avery's scissors, which she had dropped on the floor, and never missed. Now, Polly's mother scarcely ever let her take scissors, because Polly wasn't quite five yet, and might do mischief. But this time there was nobody to say "No, no!"

Those dear little boy-angels! How often she had wished she might take one home to play with! She crept out from under the quilting-frames, and no one noticed, for they were all too busy talking about the best way to wash feathers.

At last Miss Avery needed her scissors, and she pushed back her chair to look for them. "Where can they be?" she asked, and then she exclaimed, "Why, there they are—and Polly's in mischief!"

"Why, Polly!" said grandmother, getting up as quickly as she could. Polly had just finished cutting out the second angel, and there they were, smiling in her lap.

"Your nice chintz curtains," said Mrs. Clark, "and you've had them only a year!"

"She's cut them all zig-zag," said Miss Avery.

"Why, Polly!" said grandmother, and she really could not think of anything else to say.

So Polly gave back the dear little boy-angels, and Mrs. Clark and Miss Avery went to work laying pieces under, and darning down till, at last, you would never have known, unless you had looked twice, that the little winged boys had ever left the clouds.

"I know they wanted to go home and play with me," said Polly, when she told her mother all about it that night.

[24] Well, they did come to live with her at last, but not until many years after, when grandmother had gone to live with the real angels. Sometimes Polly, who is a grown-up mother, now, takes them out of their box and unfolds them, and looks at them, and the two mended places make her feel as if she were a little girl again.


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