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A Pair Of Gloves

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS





BY H. G. DURYEE

The little girls who lived on Amity Street all wore mittens when they
went to school in winter. Nobody's mother ever thought of anything else
to keep small hands warm. Some mothers or grandmothers crocheted them,
and some knit them with fancy stitches down the back, or put other mark
of distinction upon them; but they were always mittens, and were always
fastened to a long ribbon or piece of braid or knitted rein, so that
they might not get lost, one from the other.

This connecting-link frequently gave rise to confusion, for when two
little girls put their arms around each other's necks as they walked to
school, they sometimes got tangled up in the mitten string and had to
duck and turn and bump heads before the right string was again resting
on the right shoulder. But as it was possible to laugh a great deal and
lose one's breath while this was going on, it was rather an advantage
than otherwise, and little girls who were special chums were pretty sure
to manage a tangle every other day at least.

Clarabel Bradley did her tangling and untangling with Josephine Brown,
who lived at the end of Amity Street. They both went to the same school
and were in the same class. They waited for each other in the morning,
and came home together, and shared each other's candy and ginger cookies
whenever there were any, and took firm sides together whenever the
school-yard was the scene of dispute.

But into this intimacy came a pair of gloves, almost wrecking it.

The gloves were sent by Clarabel's aunt, who was young and pretty and
taught school in a large city; and they came done up in white
tissue-paper inside a box with gilt trimming around the edges and a
picture on the center of the cover. Taken out of the paper, they
revealed all their alluring qualities. They were of a beautiful glossy
brown kid with soft woolly linings and real fur around the wrists, and
they fastened with bright gilded clasps.

With them was a note which said:

For Clarabel, with love from her Aunt Bessie. =Not to be kept for
Sundays, but worn every day.=

And the last sentence was underscored.

Clarabel's mother looked doubtful as she read the message. Such gloves
were an extravagance even for best--and mittens were warmer. But when
she encountered Clarabel's shining eyes she smiled and gave in.

So Clarabel took the gloves to her room that night, and slept with them
on the foot-board of her bed, where she could see them the first thing
when she waked; and in the morning she put them on and started for
school.

One hand was held rigidly by her side, but the other was permitted to
spread its fingers widely over the book she carried. Both were well in
view if she looked down just a little. Passers-by might see; all Amity
Street might see; best of all, Josephine might see!

But Josephine, waiting at the corner, beheld and was impressed to the
point of speechlessness. Whereupon Clarabel dropped her book, and had to
pick it up with both hands. The furry wrists revealed themselves fully.

Josephine found her voice.

"You've got some new gloves," she said.

"Yes; my Aunt Bessie sent them."

"Aren't they pretty!"

"I think so, and they're lots nicer than mittens. I'm not going to wear
my mittens again."

Josephine looked down at her own chubby hands. Her mittens were red this
winter, with a red-and-green fringe around the wrists. Only that
morning she had admired them. Now they looked fat and clumsy and
altogether unattractive; but she wasn't going to admit that to any one
else.

"I like mittens best," she said stoutly,--"for school, anyway," she
added, and gave Clarabel more of the sidewalk.

"My Aunt Bessie said specially that these were to wear to school." And
Clarabel walked nearer the fence.

Josephine was hard put to it--Clarabel's manner had become so superior.

"I don't think your Aunt Bessie knows everything, even if she does teach
school in a big city. My mother says she's too young to--"

What she was too young to do was not allowed to be explained; for
Clarabel, with a color in her face that rivaled Josephine's mittens, had
faced her.

"My Aunt Bessie's lovely, and I won't listen to another word against
her, not another one--so there!"

Then she turned, with a queer feeling in her throat, and ran down the
street to catch up with another little girl who was on ahead.

Josephine swung her books and walked as if she didn't care.

Clarabel overtook the little girl, who was all smiling appreciation of
the new gloves, and was overtaken by other little girls who added
themselves to the admiring group. But somehow her triumphal progress was
strangely unsatisfactory; the glory was dimmed.

At recess, Josephine paired off with Milly Smith, who stood first in
geography and wore two curly feathers in her hat. Clarabel shared her
cookies with Minnie Cater, because it didn't matter who helped eat them
if it wasn't Josephine. Neither spoke to the other, and at noontime they
walked home on different sides of the street.

Perhaps that was why in the afternoon Clarabel lost her place in the
reader and failed on so many examples in arithmetic that she was told
she must stay after school.

Usually there would have been several to keep her company, but on this
day there was no one else,--even Angelina Maybelle Remington had got
through without disaster,--and Clarabel, wistful-eyed, saw the other
girls file out.

At another time Josephine would have stayed; she always did when
Clarabel had to, as Clarabel did when she was in like need. But to-night
she filed out with the rest, and Clarabel, with a sense of desertion,
bent over her problems of men and hay to mow, men and potatoes to dig,
men and miles of railroad to build.

The noise of scurrying feet grew fainter, the sound of children's voices
died away. The room settled into stillness, except for the solemn tick
of the clock and the scratching of Clarabel's pencil on the slate. There
were fractions in the problems, and fractions were always hard for
Clarabel. Her pencil stopped often while she frowned at the curly-tailed
figures. In one of these pauses the door squeaked open a little way. It
squeaked again, and some one sidled into the room; it was Josephine.

"Please may I go to my seat?" she asked.

"Certainly," said the teacher, and watched her curiously.

She tiptoed to the back seat, fumbled for a few minutes in her desk,
then slipped to a seat a few rows farther in front; then to another and
another, till she had reached the row in which Clarabel sat.

Clarabel, though she was bending over her slate, had heard every
hesitating move, and when the last halt was made she shook her curls
back from her eyes, looked around, and dimpled into smiles.

The teacher, watching, waited to see what would happen next. Nothing
did, except that the two little girls sat and smiled and smiled and
smiled as if they never would stop.

Presently the teacher herself smiled and spoke. She had a very sweet
voice sometimes--one that seemed to hint at happy secrets. That was the
way it sounded now.

"Would you like to help Clarabel, Josephine?" she asked. "You may if you
wish to."

"If she'll let me," answered Josephine, her eyes fixed on Clarabel's
face.

"I would love to have her," said Clarabel, her eyes on Josephine. And
instantly the one narrow seat became large enough for two.

For ten minutes more there was great scratching of slate-pencils and
much whispering and some giggling. Then with cheerful clatter the slate
was borne to the platform. The teacher looked at the little girls more
than at the examples. "I'm sure they're right," she said. "Now, off to
your homes--both of you!"

"Good night," said Clarabel.

"Good night," said Josephine.

"Good night, dear little girls," said the teacher.

There was a soft swish of dresses and the children had reached the
dressing-room. Within its familiar narrowness, Josephine hesitated and
fingered her cloak-buttons.

"I think your Aunt Bessie"--it was very slow speech for Josephine--"is
ever so nice and knows a lot."

"Oh!" bubbled Clarabel, joyously, "I do love the color of your mittens!
Don't you--don't you"--she finished with a rush--"want to let me wear
them home and you wear my gloves?"

Josephine put aside the dazzling offer.

"Your gloves are prettier and you ought to wear them."

Clarabel thought a minute, a shadow in her eyes.

"I know what," she declared, the shadow vanishing. "You wear one glove
and mitten and I'll wear the other glove and mitten!"

"Oh!" said Josephine, with a rapturous hug, "that will be splendid!"

And thus they scampered home, the two mittened hands holding each other
tight, while the two gloved hands were gaily waved high in the air with
each fresh outburst of laughter from the little schoolmates.





Next: A Very Little Story Of A Very Little Girl

Previous: Buckle My Shoe



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