GIRLS AND A DOLL.
WHEN Dolores rapped softly at the door an hour later,
she was bidden to enter by a low but calm voice; and she found Helena busy
in unpacking her trunks, and arranging her wardrobe in closets, drawers
"You look tired, Miss Maxon," she said kindly--"or rather,
Miss Lena, for we must not be formal if we are to be room-mates, must we?
so let us begin with Lena and Dolores from the first."
"Dolores," repeated Helena, softly; "Dolores--it is a
lovely name, but I never heard it before."
"No, it is not a common name. It means sorrowful, I believe;
my mother named me well. And now, may I not assist you in your unpacking?
Let me hang up your dresses--the hooks are so high, and I am taller than
"Oh, thank you, you are very kind, and I am tired.
It always makes me tired and ill to cry, and I look so like a fright, too.
I wish I might be improved by tears, like the heroines in novels we read
about; but I am not so fortunate as they."
"Have you read many novels?" asked Dolores, as she hung
up a neat blue walking suit, secretly wondering if that color could be
becoming to her dusky companion.
"Oh, no, not many. Mamma thinks I am too young to read
the best novels understandingly, and she does not like to have me read
anything for just the story of it. I have read all of Mrs. Whitney's books;
they are the sweetest stories in the world for girls to read, mamma says,
and I think so, too. They always make me feel braver and better, and more
contented. I have read two or three books that made me discontented; the
heroines were so wonderfully gifted and so gloriously beautiful that I
fairly hated my poor self for days after reading about them."
"That is very odd," she said, "I do not remember to ever
have been affected in that way by a book."
Helena cast an admiring glance upon her companion.
"Well, I should not suppose you would be?" she responded,
"because you are more beautiful than any heroine I ever read about, and
that makes all the difference in the world, you know."
Dolores let a whole arm full of mantles and dresses fall
in a heap upon the floor, as she turned and stared at the speaker.
"Are you making sport of me?" she asked, bluntly.
"I, making sport of you? Why, I would not be so rude,"
cried Helena, the tears starting to her eyes again. "Perhaps I ought not
to have spoken so plainly--may be you think 'praise to the face is an open
disgrace;' but I do not believe that. If I like any thing or any body,
I can not help saying so; and I thought you must know how very beautiful
you are, and I spoke of it just as I would speak of the beauty of a flower
or a picture. I am sorry if I have annoyed you."
Dolores picked up the scattered garments and began to
arrange them in order.
"Well, you are the oddest girl I ever met," she said.
"But you have not annoyed me; I am sure it is very sweet of you to say
such pretty things to me; only I never knew any girl who talked like that
before: girls are usually so hateful, you know."
"Are they?" and there was real grief in Helena's voice.
"Oh, I don't like to believe that is true."
"But have not you found them so?"
"No; but you see I have known very few girls. I have lived
very quietly at home, and I never even staid all night with a girl in my
life--mamma never liked to have me. No doubt I have a great deal to 1earn,
but I always longed for a sister, and I thought girls were very nice indeed."
"I suppose some of them are," Dolores admitted, "but I
never cared much for their society myself; as a rule they only think and
talk about beaus, and marriage, and silly gossip which does not interest
me. But I'm sure you are quite different, and we shall get along
nicely together. For pity's sake, what is that!"
This last exclamatory query was uttered just as Helena
unfolded numerous wrappings from a large inanimate object, which very much
resembled a sleeping infant several months old. Helena's olive cheek glowed
with a sudden flush like the rosy side of a ripe peach. She bent low over
the object, which was now quite free from its protecting wraps, as she
answered, "I suppose you will think me terribly silly; mamma said she was
afraid the girls would make sport of me, if I brought it with me, but when
I came away I found I just could not leave my dear dolly at home.
Papa gave it to me three years ago Christmas, and I think it is the loveliest
creature I ever saw in the shape of a doll. I have been so fond of her,
and I have always had her in my room at night; and it broke my heart to
think of leaving her behind me. So at last mamma said I might bring her.
I shall keep her in the bottom drawer of the dresser, and no one but you
need know she is here. I don't want the whole school laughing at me; but
I know I shall be a great deal happier because she is with me. Did you
feel badly when you had to give up your dolls?"
"I never played with a doll in all my life," Dolores answered,
"I always knew they were only dolls."
"Yes, of course real babies are nicer, but they cry so--and
one has to be so careful--"
"Real babies!" echoed Dolores, in undisguised contempt,
"I am sure I never want to play with those miserable little beings. I never
know what to do with them."
"Don't you love babies? the sweet innocent little creatures,"
cried Helena, clasping her arms over an imaginary infant, and cuddling
it to her breast with true mother-tenderness. "Oh, I think they are the
loveliest, dearest little things in the world. How can you dislike them?"
"I don't really dislike them," Dolores replied; "I only
pity them. Nobody ever asks them whether or not they wish to come into
this world of trouble--nobody ever wants them, and every body tires of
their plaintive protest against life. Yes, indeed, I pity the poor things."
"Oh, but I am sure some babies are wanted," Helena interposed.
"A little brother came to me three years ago, and we were all so glad and
happy, as if an angel had been sent to us. And it was an angel," she added,
in a lower tone, "for it was called back to heaven in a few months, and
we were left so very, very lonely. But we were glad it came even for that
brief time. It made us all better, I know. Have you any brother or sisters,
"No," Dolores answered, "my mother died when I was six
"Oh," said Helena, very softly, "then you are an orphan?
I think that is the saddest thing in the world--to have no father and mother
"My father is living--but he has another wife, and I never
see him," Dolores ex-plained, "and I feel that I am an orphan. I live with
my mother's brother--my Uncle Laurence, when I am at home. But I think
we ought to retire oarly to night, Miss Lena --you look very tired; this
has been a hard day for you."
As they disrobed together, Helena's admiration for her
companion's beauty broke forth again.
"You have the loveliest hair I ever saw," she said.
"How I would love to see a pic-ture of you with it flowing about your shoulders
As malice creates malice, so generosity awakens generosity.
Dolores, who was usually quite too indifferent to individuals to particularly
notice, much less mention their pleasing traits, now smilingly replied
to Helena's eulogy:
"And I would like a picture of your beautiful neck and
shoulders; you have the form of a young goddess, my dear."
"Have I?" cried Helena with childish delight, "why, I
am sure no one ever said so before--only Papa told me there was a classic
slope to my shoulders--I always remem-bered that compliment--as I shall
yours. I just worship beauty, and I am so grateful to heaven for the least
little spark of prettiness it bas given me, and I try to make the most
of myself in every way. I think the Creator meant all women to be lovely;
Eve was beautiful, I am sure; and it is only by dis-obeying the laws of
health, and not think-ing the right thoughts that her descendants have
grown deformed and unattractive.
That is what Mamma thinks, and I believe it is true too."
"Are you quite ready to retire," asked Dolores, as she
saw Helena let down her brown hair over her snowy night-dress. "If so,
I will put out the light."
"Oh dear, no," laughed Helena, "you have no idea how long
a time I require at my toilet night and morning. You know I told you I
tried to make the most of myself every way. Now nature did not give me
much beauty to begin with, but Mamma says I can greatly improve on what
was given me. My hair is not very fine or soft, so I give it a hundred
strokes of the brush every night, and fifty every morning. Then I take
ever so much pains with my teeth and nails--for they are very obvious features,
you know, and my nails are inclined to be ugly--not naturally long and
shapely like yours. And I am so fond of bathing, that Mamma says she ought
to keep me in an aquarium with the gold fish."
"But you will find it very difficult to get time for so
many elaborate ceremonies here at school," said Dolores.
"Well, then I shall fall behind in my classes, I fear,"
answered Helena as she stroked her hair till it glistened like the coat
of a finely-groomed horse. "I look on my body as the temple of my
soul, and I feel as if I was showing respect to God by taking every delicate
and beautiful care of it that is possible. I do not care for fine clothes
so much as some girls do, but I love to beautify and purify myself--the
body that God made--and dedicate it anew to his service each day and night.
What other girls spend in sweetmeats and candies, I use to buy delicate
perfumes, and soaps, and dainty brushes and appliances for my toilet and
bath. I fact, I suppose I am a born old maid. There now--you can put out
the light, and hereafter I will take that task upon myself and not keep
And then she dropped on her knees by the snowy couch in
the moonlight, and offered up her simple silent prayer of petition and
ďA nice sweet girl," thought Dolores as she lay and watched
the kneeling figure. "I think I shall quite enjoy her society."
And she did not dream that in the merci-fully veiled future
circumstances should transpire, which would cause her to feel for that
same girlish figure kneeling at her bed-side, all the bitter hatred, all
the passionate fury, all the jealous vengeance of which the human heart
is capable when in the grasp of an immortal sorrow and a great despair.