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By all means,' replied the lady; and they walked on, carrying all my hopes with them.
I had often fancied myself the prettiest doll of my size in the place ; but such conceit would not support me now. I felt that there were dozens— nay scores—who more than equalled me; and all discontented notions of my neglected merit now sunk before the dread that I had really no merit to neglect.
I began also to have some idea of what was meant by time. My past life had glided away so imperceptibly, that I did not know whether it had been long or short; but I learnt to count every moment while those two mortals were walking round the bazaar.
I strained my eyes to catch sight of them again ; but when at last they reappeared, I scarcely dared to look, for fear of seeing a doll in the child's hands. But no; her hands were empty, except for the sixpence still between her finger and thumb.
They came nearer—they stopped at another stall. I could not hear what they said ; but they turned away, and once more stood opposite to me. The child remained for some moments as silent as myself, and then exclaimed
"After all, mamma, I don't think there are
any prettier dolls than these in the whole room.'
What do you say to this one, miss ?' said our proprietor, taking up a great full-dressed Dutch doll, and laying her on the top of those of my size and class, completely hiding the poor little victims under her stiff muslin and broad ribbons.
But on the child's answering, 'No, thank you, I only want a sixpenny doll, not dressed,' the Dutch giantess was removed, and we once more asserted our humble claims.
That seems to me a very pretty one,' said the mamma, pointing to my next neighbour.
The child for a moment hesitated, but presently exclaimed, in a joyful tone
'Oh no, this is the beauty of all; this little darling with the real hair and blue ribbons in it. I will take this one, if you please;' and before I could be sure that she meant me, I was removed from my place, wrapped up in paper, and consigned to her hands. My long-cherished wishes were fulfilled, and I was bought. At first I could scarcely believe it. Notwithstanding all my planning and looking forward to this event, now that it really happened, I could not understand it. My senses seemed gone. What had so long occupied my mind was the work of a moment; but that moment was irrevocable, and my fate was decided. In my little mistress' hands I passed the boundaries of the world of toys, and entered upon a new state of existence.
VERY different life now opened before
I had no longer any pretence for complaining of neglect. My young
mistress devoted every spare moment to the enjoyment of my company, and set no limits to her caresses and compliments; while I in return regarded her with all the gratitude and affection which a doll can feel. My faculties as well as my feelings were called into fresh exercise; for though I had no longer the wide range of observation afforded by the daily crowd of strangers in the bazaar, I had the new advantage of making intimate acquaintance with a small circle of friends.
Having hitherto been so completely without any position in the world, I could not at first help feeling rather shy at the idea of taking my place as member of a family; and it was therefore a relief to find that my lot was not cast amongst total strangers, but that I had already some slight clue to the characters of my future companions.
My mistress, whose name was Rose, was sister to the Willy for whom she had bought the paintbox, and also to Edward, the purchaser of the tools. Geoffrey, the lover of tarts, was a cousin on a visit to them for the holidays; and they had also an elder sister named Margaret, besides their papa and mamma, whom I had seen in the bazaar.
The first of the family to whom I was introduced was Willy, and I soon became much interested in him. He was a pale thin boy, who spent the day on a sofa, to and from which he was carried in the morning and at night. In fine weather he went out in a wheel-chair; but he was unable to move without help, and was obliged to endure many privations. Though he often looked suffering and weary, he was cheerful and patient, and always seemed pleased to hear other children describe enjoyments in which he could not share. Everybody was fond of Willy, and anxious to amuse and comfort him. All that happened out of doors was told to him ; all the kindest friends and pleasantest visitors came to see him ; the new books were brought to him to read first ;, the best fruits and flowers always set apart for him; and all the in-door occupations arranged as much as