The Poor Little Doll

IT was a plain little doll that had been bought for sixpence at a stall in the market-place. It had scanty hair and a weak composition face, a calico body and foolish feet that always turned inwards instead of outwards, and from which the sawdust now and then oozed. Yet in its glass eyes there was an expression of amusement; they seemed to be looking not at you but through you, and the pursed-up red lips were always smiling at what the glass eyes saw.

“Well, you are a doll,” the boy said, looking up from his French exercise. “And what are you staring at me for is there anything behind?” he asked, looking over has shoulder. The doll made no answer. “And whatever are you smiling for?” he asked; “I believe you are always smiling. I believe you’d go on if I didn’t do my exercise till next year, or if the cat died, or the monument tumbled down.” But still the doll smiled in silence, and the boy went on with his exercise. Presently he looked up again and yawned. “I think I’ll go for a stroll,” he said, and put his book by. “I know what I’ll do,” he said, suddenly; “I’ll take that doll and hang it up to the apple tree to scare away the sparrows.” And calling out, “Sis, I have taken your doll; I’m going to make a scarecrow of it,” he went off to the garden.

His sister rushed after him, crying out, “Oh, my poor doll! oh, my dear little doll ! What are you doing to it, you naughty boy?”

“It’s so ugly,” he said.

“No, it is not ugly,” she cried.

“And it’s so stupid, it never does anything but smile, it can’t even grow, it never gets any bigger.”

“Poor darling doll,” Sis said, as she got it once more safely into her arms, “of course you can’t grow, but it is not your fault, they did not make any tucks in you to let out.”

“And it’s so unfeeling. It went smiling away like anything when I could not do my French.”

“It has no heart. Of course it can’t feel.”

“Why hasn’t it got a heart?

“Because it isn’t alive. You ought to be sorry for it, and very, very kind to it, poor thing.” “Well, what is it always smiling for?” “Because it is so good,” answered Sis, bursting into tears. “It is never bad-tempered; it never complains, and it never did anything unkind,” and, kissing it tenderly, “you are always good and sweet,” she said, “and always look smiling, though you must be very unhappy at not being alive.”