"It's so wainy, I can't go out, and evwybody is so cwoss they won't play with me," said Maud, when Polly found her fretting on the stairs, and paused to ask the cause of her wails.
"I'll play with you; only don't scream and wake your mother. What shall we play?"
"I don't know; I'm tired of evwything,'cause my toys are all bwoken, and my dolls are all sick but Clawa," moaned Maud, giving a jerk to the Paris doll which she held upside down by one leg in the most unmaternal manner.
"I'm going to dress a dolly for my little sister; wouldn't you like to see me do it?" asked Polly, persuasively, hoping to beguile the cross child and finish her own work at the same time.
"No, I shouldn't,'cause she'll look nicer than my Clawa. Her clothes won't come off; and Tom spoilt'em playing ball with her in the yard."
"Wouldn't you like to rip these clothes off, and have me show you how to make some new ones, so you can dress and undress Clara as much as you like?"
"Yes; I love to cut." And Maud's, face brightened; for destructiveness is one of the earliest traits of childhood, and ripping was Maud's delight.
Establishing themselves in the deserted dining-room, the children fell to work; and when Fanny discovered them, Maud was laughing with all her heart at poor Clara, who, denuded of her finery, was cutting up all sorts of capers in the hands of her merry little mistress.
"I should think you'd be ashamed to play with dolls, Polly. I haven't touched one this ever so long," said Fanny, looking down with a superior air.
"I ain't ashamed, for it keeps Maud happy, and will please my sister Kitty; and I think sewing is better than prinking or reading silly novels, so, now." And Polly stitched away with a resolute air, for she and Fanny had had a little tiff; because Polly wouldn't let her friend do up her hair "like other folks," and bore her ears.
"Don't be cross, dear, but come and do something nice, it's so dull to-day," said Fanny, anxious to be friends again, for it was doubly dull without Polly.
"Can't; I'm busy."
"You always are busy. I never saw such a girl. What in the world do you find to do all the time?" asked Fanny, watching with interest the set of the little red merino frock Polly was putting on to her doll.
"Lots of things; but I like to be lazy sometimes as much as you do; just lie on the sofa, and read fairy stories, or think about nothing. Would you have a white-muslin apron or a black silk?" added Polly, surveying her work with satisfaction.
"Muslin, with pockets and tiny blue bows. I'll show you how." And forgetting her hate and contempt for dolls, down sat Fanny, soon getting as much absorbed as either of the others.
The dull day brightened wonderfully after that, and the time flew pleasantly, as tongues and needles went together. Grandma peeped in, and smiled at the busy group, saying, "Sew away, my dears; dollies are safe companions, and needlework an accomplishment that's sadly neglected nowadays. Small stitches, Maud; neat buttonholes, Fan; cut carefully, Polly, and don't waste your cloth. Take pains; and the best needlewoman shall have a pretty bit of white satin for a doll's bonnet."
Fanny exerted herself, and won the prize, for Polly helped Maud, and neglected her own work; but she didn't care much, for Mr. Shaw said, looking at the three bright faces at the tea-table, "I guess Polly has been making sunshine for you to-day." "No, indeed, sir, I haven't done anything, only dress Maud's doll."
And Polly didn't think she had done much; but it was one of the little things which are always waiting to be done in this world of ours, where rainy days come so often, where spirits get out of tune, and duty won't go hand in hand with pleasure. Little things of this sort are especially good work for little people; a kind little thought, an unselfish little act, a cheery little word, are so sweet and comfortable, that no one can fail to feel their beauty and love the giver, no matter how small they are. Mothers do a deal of this sort of thing, unseen, unthanked, but felt and remembered long afterward, and never lost, for this is the simple magic that binds hearts together, and keeps home happy.
-From "An Old-Fashioned Girl" by Lousia May Alcott
You can read the book here.