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can wish,' said the gentleman, pointing to my abode. But Geoffrey did not move.
I don't want anything,' said he at last.
What a fortunate boy!' said the gentleman; but he presently added, "Have you lost your money?'
Show it to me.'
Geoffrey slowly produced his sixpence, almost hidden in the palm of his hand.
• Where is the rest ?' asked the gentleman. * Have you spent it?'
· And nothing to show for it? Nothing ?'and the gentleman looked at the boy more narrowly. * Nothing,' said he again, 'except a few crumbs of pie-crust on your waistcoat? Oh, Geoffrey !
There was a short silence, and the boy coloured a good deal; at last he said, It was my own money.'
* You will wish it was your own again before long, I dare say,' said the gentleman. “However, we must hope you will be wiser in time. Come home now to dinner.'
'I don't want any dinner,' said Geoffrey.
Probably not, but Edward and I do. We have not dined on tarts; and I dare say Ned is as hungry as I am.'
So saying, he led the way towards the door, leaving me, as usual, pondering over what had passed. One word used by the gentleman made a great impression on me— USEFUL.
What could that mean? Various considerations were suggested by the question. Some things, it seemed, were useful, others not; and what puzzled me most was, that the very same things appeared to be useful to some people, and not to others. For instance, the sixpenny paint-box, which had been rejected as useless to Willy, was bought soon afterwards by a small boy, who said it would be the most useful toy he had.
Could this be the case with everything? Was it possible that everything properly applied might have its use, and that its value depended upon those who used it? If so, why was Geoffrey blamed for spending his money in tarts? He liked them. Perhaps he had plenty of food at home, and that uselessness consisted in a thing's not being really wanted. I revolved the subject in my mind, and tried to discover the use of everything I saw, but I was not always successful. The subject was perplexing; and gradually all my thoughts became fixed on the point of most importance to myself—namely, my own
How changed were my ideas since the time when I imagined the world to belong to dolls! Their whole race now seemed to be of very small importance; and as for my individual self, I could not be sure that I had any use at all, and still less what, or to whom.
Day after day I lay on my counter unnoticed, except by the shopwoman who covered us up at night, and re-arranged us in the morning; and even this she did with such an indifferent air, that I could not flatter myself I was of the smallest use to her. Every necessary care was bestowed upon me in common with my companions; but I sighed for the tender attentions that I sometimes saw lavished by children upon their dolls, and wished that my mistress would nurse and caress me in the same manner.
She never seemed to think of such a thing. She once said I was dusty, and whisked a brush over my face; but that was the only separate mark of interest I ever received from her. I had no reasonable ground of complaint, but I began to grow weary of the insipidity of my life, and to ask myself whether this could be my only destiny. Was I never to be of use to anybody? From time to time other toys were carried away. Many a giddy top and lively ball left my side in childish company, and disappeared through those mysterious gates by which the busy human race entered our calm seclusion.
At last even dolls had their day. The beautiful waxen princess no longer graced our dominions. She was bought by an elderly lady for a birthday present to a little grand-daughter; and on the very same day the old familiar faces' of six dolls who had long shared my counter vanished from my sight, one after another being bought and
I was sorry to lose them, though while we lived together we had had our little miffs and jealousies. I had sometimes thought that the one with the red shoes was always sticking out her toes; that she of the flaxen ringlets was ready to let every breath of wind blow them over her neighbours' faces; that another with long legs took up more room than her share, much to my inconvenience.
But now that they were all gone, and I never could hope to see them again, I would gladly have squeezed myself into as small compass as the baby doll in the
walnut-shell, in order to make room for them once more.
One thing, however, was satisfactory : dolls certainly had their use. Seven had been bought, and therefore why not an eighth ? I had been sinking almost into a state of despondency; but now my hopes revived, and my spirits rose. My turn might come.
And my turn did come. Every circumstance of that eventful day is deeply impressed on my memory. I was, as usual, employed in making remarks upon the passing crowd, and wondering what might be the use of everybody I saw, when I perceived the lady and the little girl who had been almost my first acquaintances among the human race. As they approached my stall, I heard the mamma say, 'Have you decided what to buy with the sixpence ?'
Oh yes, quite,' answered the child ; 'I am going to buy a sixpenny doll.
The words thrilled through me. seemed fixed on mine, and the sixpence was between her fingers. I imagined myself bought. But she continued
'I think, if you don't mind the trouble, I should like to go round the bazaar first, to see which are the prettiest.'