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Grandmother Dear Part 1

Grandmother Dear.

by Mrs. Molesworth.

CHAPTER I.

MAKING FRIENDS.

"Good onset bodes good end."

SPENSER.

"Well?" said Ralph.

"Well?" said Sylvia.

"Well?" said Molly.

Then they all three stood and looked at each other. Each had his or her own opinion on the subject which was uppermost in their minds, but each was equally reluctant to express it, till that of the others had been got at. So each of the three said "Well?" to the other two, and stood waiting, as if they were playing the old game of "Who speaks first?" It got tiresome, however, after a bit, and Molly, whose patience was the most quickly exhausted, at last threw caution and dignity to the winds.

"Well," she began, but the "well" this time had quite a different tone from the last; "_well_," she repeated emphatically, "I'm the youngest, and I suppose you'll say I shouldn't give my opinion first, but I just will, for all that. And my opinion is, that she's just as nice as she can be."

"And I think so too," said Sylvia, "Don't you, Ralph?"

"I?" said Ralph loftily, "you forget. _I_ have seen her before."

"Yes, but not to _remember_," said Sylvia and Molly at once. "You might just as well never have seen her before as far as that goes. But isn't she nice?"

"Ye-es," said Ralph. "I don't think she's bad for a grandmother."

"'For a grandmother!'" cried Molly indignantly. "What do you mean, Ralph?

What can be nicer than a nice grandmother?"

"But suppose she wasn't nice? she needn't be, you know. There are grandmothers and grandmothers," persisted Ralph.

"Of course I know _that_," said Molly. "You don't suppose I thought our grandmother was everybody's grandmother, you silly boy. What I say is she's just like a real grandmother--not like Nora Leslie's, who is always scolding Nora's mother for spoiling her children, and wears such grand, quite _young lady_ dresses, and has _black_ hair," with an accent of profound disgust, "not nice, beautiful, soft, silver hair, like _our_ grandmother's. Now, isn't it true, Sylvia, isn't our grandmother just like a _real_ one?"

Sylvia smiled. "Yes, exactly," she replied. "She would almost do for a fairy godmother, if only she had a stick with a gold knob."

"Only perhaps she'd beat us with it," said Ralph.

"Oh no, not _beat_ us," cried Molly, dancing about. "It would be worse than that. If we were naughty she'd point it at us, and then we'd all three turn into toads, or frogs, or white mice. Oh, just fancy! I am so glad she hasn't got a gold-headed stick."

"Children," said a voice at the door, which made them all jump, though it was such a kind, cheery voice. "Aren't you ready for tea? I'm glad to see you are not very tired, but you must be hungry. Remember that you've travelled a good way to-day."

"Only from London, grandmother dear," said Molly; "that isn't very far."

"And the day after to-morrow you have to travel a long way farther,"

continued her grandmother. "You must get early to bed, and keep yourselves fresh for all that is before you. Aunty says _she_ is very hungry, so you little people must be so too. Yes, dears, you may run downstairs first, and I'll come quietly after you; I am not so young as I have been, you know."

Molly looked up with some puzzle in her eyes at this.

"Not so young as you have been, grandmother dear?" she repeated.

"Of course not," said Ralph. "And you're not either, Molly. Once you were a baby in long clothes, and, barring the long clothes, I don't know but what----"

"Hush, Ralph. Don't begin teasing her," said Sylvia in a low voice, not lost, however, upon grandmother.

What _was_ lost upon grandmother?

"And what were you all so busy chattering about when I interrupted you just now?" she inquired, when they were all seated round the tea-table, and thanks to the nice cold chicken and ham, and rolls and butter and tea-cakes, and all manner of good things, the children fast "losing their appetites."

Sylvia blushed and looked at Ralph; Ralph grew much interested in the grounds at the bottom of his tea-cup; only Molly, Molly the irrepressible, looked up briskly.

"Oh, nothing," she replied; "at least nothing particular."

"Dear me! how odd that you should all three have been talking at once about anything so uninteresting as nothing particular," said grandmother, in a tone which made them all laugh.

"It wasn't _exactly_ about nothing particular," said Molly: "it was about _you_, grandmother dear."

"Molly!" said Sylvia reproachfully, but Molly was not so easily to be snubbed.

"We were wishing," she continued, "that you had a gold-headed stick, and then you'd be quite _perfect_."

It was grandmother's and aunty's turn to laugh now.

"Only," Molly went on, "Ralph said perhaps you'd beat us with it, and I said no, most likely you'd turn us into frogs or mice, you know."

"'Frogs or mice, I know,' but indeed I don't know," said grandmother; "why should I wish to turn my boy and girl children into frogs and mice?"

"If we were naughty, I meant," said Molly. "Oh, Sylvia, you explain--I always say things the wrong way."

"It was I that said you looked like a fairy godmother," said Sylvia, blushing furiously, "and that put it into Molly's head about the frogs and mice."

"But the only fairy godmother _I_ remember that did these wonderful things turned mice into horses to please her god-daughter. Have you not got hold of the wrong end of the story, Molly?" said grandmother.

"The wrong end and beginning and middle too, I should say," observed Ralph.

"Yes, grandmother dear, I always do," said Molly, complacently. "I never remember stories or anything the right way, my head is so funnily made."

"When you can't find your gloves, because you didn't put them away carefully, is it the fault of the shape of the chest of drawers?"

inquired grandmother quietly.

"Yes, I suppose so,--at least, no, I mean, of course it isn't," replied Molly, taking heed to her words half-way through, when she saw that they were all laughing at her.

Grandmother smiled, but said no more.

"What a wool-gathering little brain it is," she said to herself.

Chapter end

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