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It Was All Those Horrid Bellows!

from Nearly Bedtime





A STORY TOLD BY A LITTLE GIRL.


I heard Dick--he's my biggest brother--learning his "Rep" the other day.
I don't quite know what "Rep" is; but he was saying some words over and
over again, and some of them stuck in my head. I can remember them now.

I don't often remember things; but that is because I've got a head like
a sieve--nurse says so.

"What's in a name?" he read out of the book--and then something about a
rose smelling sweet. That part doesn't matter.

If Dick had asked me "What's in a name?" I could have told him quite
well. But Dick didn't ask me, and so I will tell you instead. I think
there's a great deal in a name--at least, in a nickname. There are all
kinds of spiteful little prickles that hurt ever so much more than
others, because they stick in our feelings.

I think I must have got a whole lot of that kind of thorn in me just
now, for I do feel sore.

Every one has begun to call me Matty, and I can't bear it!

Did you say Matty was rather a pretty name?

Perhaps it is, if it is the proper short for your name; I mean, if you
were christened Matilda. But my name's Ginevra!

Now, do you understand that they all call me Matty just to tease me, and
I hate it. I do.

I've got as far as adjectives in grammar, so I know that the long horrid
word which they put before Matty sometimes is an adjective. I'm not
going to write it down here--no, not for any one--because it is such a
nasty, unkind word. But it begins with an M. The next letter is an E,
and then comes D, and there are seven more letters, I think.

And this is all because the other day it was raining very fast, and
there was nothing to do!

There never is anything to do on a wet day; I mean, nothing interesting.
Dick plays with me sometimes; but he was reading a story, with dreadful
fighting pictures to it, in the Boy's Own Paper, so I knew he
wouldn't want to come. And Teddie had gone to sleep in the armchair.

Wasn't that a stupid thing to do?

Well! I was obliged to get something to do--wasn't I? And it wasn't my
fault that Ann left the dear little drawing-room bellows behind her,
when she came to make up the fire, was it?

You can do nice, funny things with bellows.

I've tried.

But Dick didn't like me to blow down his neck; and Teddie got quite
cross when I sent a puff of wind into his ear and woke him up. He
needn't have thrown the footstool at me, need he?

I went out of the schoolroom after that, and such a nice thought came
into my head.

I would be a wind-fairy.

I would be a naughty wind-fairy first, and go and blow everything out
of its place--all untidy and crooked; and then I could change, and be a
good wind-fairy, and go and blow all the things straight again.

So I went into all the rooms.

It was funny!

I blew the antimacassars on to the floor, and the visiting-cards out of
the china-plate.

That was in the drawing-room.

The best fun was in the nursery, where all the clean handkerchiefs and
collars and cuffs were on the table. They went puff, puff, all over the
floor, just like big snowflakes, and I could hardly help stepping on
them.

The bedrooms were not so much fun. So I finished by going to the
dining-room, as soon as Ann had gone away, after setting the tea.

Nobody will believe me when I say that I really was going to put
everything tidy again! But I never got so far as being the good
wind-fairy. Everything always goes just the wrong way!

First of all, the servants finished their tea sooner than they generally
do, and nurse went straight back to the nursery. She might have
waited--mightn't she?

And wasn't it unkind of Mrs. Rose to come and call, and to have to be
shown into the drawing-room? She is our doctor's sister, and she is so
stiff and white that we call her Mrs. Primrose. That's her nickname.
But it never pricks her, because she never hears it.

I wonder if nurse is right when she says, "It is going against the
Catechism to make nicknames for grown-up people"?

Well! I didn't know that if you blew a flame with the bellows it would
make it run about everywhere. Did you?

I was only trying to make the spirit-lamp burn faster under the kettle.

I was just beginning to be the good wind-fairy then. And the silly
flame ran all over the table-cloth, and there was such a flare-up!

I was frightened.

The tea-cosy was burnt. So was the table-cloth. Ann had 'stericks. I
think that is what nurse called them. Mrs. Primrose came running in with
mother from the drawing-room, and she fainted.

That was all!

At least, I was sent to bed, and now they call me Matty. Don't you think
it is unkind of them? Ginevra is such a pretty name too!

I didn't mean to be naughty. And I do wish mother would make me
understand all about it; but Teddie is ill, and, of course, she can't
leave him until he's better. I shall have to wait, I suppose. But I
can't be happy again until I have had a nice talk with mother. She
makes everything so understand-ible.

What did nurse mean when she said, the other day, "There's one comfort;
Miss Ginevra's character is still unformed"?





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