“Oh, dear! Must you really go home on Saturday?” said Fan, some days after what Tom called the “grand scrimmage”.

“I really must; for I only came to stay a month, and here I’ve been nearly six weeks,” answered Polly, feeling as if she had been absent a year.

“Make it two months, and stay over Christmas. Come, do, now,” urged Tom, heartily.

“You are very kind; but I wouldn’t miss Christmas at home for anything. Besides, mother says they can’t possibly do without me.”

“Neither can we. Can’t you tease your mother, and make up your mind to stay?” began Fan.

“Polly never teases. She says it’s selfish; and I don’t do it now much,” put in Maud, with a virtuous air.

“Don’t you bother, Polly. She’d rather go, and I don’t wonder. Let’s be just as jolly as we can while she stays, and finish up with your party, Fan,” said Tom in a tone that settled the matter.

Polly had expected to be very happy in getting ready for the party; but when the time came she was disappointed; for somehow that naughty thing called envy took possession of her, and spoiled her pleasure. Before she left home, she thought her new white muslin dress, with its fresh blue ribbons, the most elegant and proper costume she could have; but now, when she saw Fanny’s pink silk, with a white tarlatan tunic, and innumerable puffings, bows, and streamers, her own simple little toilet lost all its charms in her eyes, and looked very babyish and old-fashioned.

Even Maud was much better dressed than herself, and looked very splendid in her cherry-coloured and white suit, with a sash so big she could hardly carry it, and little white boots with red buttons. They both had necklaces and bracelets, ear-rings and brooches; but Polly had no ornament, except the plain locket on a bit of blue velvet. Her sash was only a wide ribbon, tied in a simple bow, and nothing but a blue snood in the pretty curls. Her only comfort was the knowledge that the modest tucker drawn up round the plump shoulders was real lace, and that her bronze boots cost nine dollars.

Poor Polly, with all her efforts to be contented, and not to mind looking unlike other people, found it hard work to keep her face bright and her voice happy that night. No one dreamed what was going on under the muslin frock, till grandma’s wise old eyes spied out the little shadow on Polly’s spirits, and guessed the cause of it. When dressed, the three girls went up to show themselves to the elders, who were in grandma’s room, where Tom was being helped into an agonizingly stiff collar.

Maud pranced like a small peacock, and Fan made a splendid courtesy as everyone turned to survey them; but Polly stood still, and her eyes went from face to face, with an anxious, wistful air, which seemed to say, “I know I’m not right; but I hope I don’t look very bad.”

Grandma read the look in a minute; and when Fanny said, with a satisfied smile, “How do we look?” she answered, drawing Polly toward her so kindly,

“Very like the fashion-plates you got the patterns of your dresses from. But this little costume suits me best.”

“Do you really think I look nice?” and Polly’s face brightened, for she valued the old lady’s opinion very much.

“Yes, my dear; you look just as I like to see a child of your age look. What particularly pleases me is that you have kept your promise to your mother, and haven’t let anyone persuade you to wear borrowed finery. Young things like you don’t need any ornaments but those you wear to-night,—youth, health, intelligence, and modesty.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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