Read CHAPTER VII of Adventures in Toyland What the Marionette Told Molly , free online book, by Edith King Hall, on ReadCentral.com.

“That was very funny,” said the little girl; “it made me laugh very much.”

“It made all the Toys laugh,” said the Marionette “except the Hansom-driver himself. And, perhaps, he might be excused for not doing so.”

“He was a vain thing,” said the little girl.

“He was,” the Marionette agreed. “However, we must not be too severe on him. He had his good points after all. He was not bad-tempered, for example, like poor Claribelle, who at one time was quite unbearable, and made herself disliked by everyone. Though in the end, poor creature, she became, it is true, an altered character.”

“‘Poor Claribelle!’ Who was she?”

“A young lady doll whose bad temper, unfortunately for her, brought her great sorrow.

“I should like to hear about her,” said the little girl.

The little Marionette mused a moment. “I should not do wrong to tell you,” she remarked. “The story of this poor, proud creature may perhaps serve as a lesson and warning to some other haughty and fanciful young lady. Yes, you shall hear to-morrow evening of Claribelle.” And so the next evening, in a grave voice that befitted the tale, she told the story of “Proud Claribelle.”

PROUD CLARIBELLE

Claribelle was a very haughty doll. She was very beautiful, with great brown eyes and a mass of dark hair that fell to her waist. She had fine clothes, too; a pink silk dress, a large straw hat trimmed with lace and pink roses, pink silk stockings and bronze shoes, and round her neck a string of pearls, which were the envy of every lady doll in the toy-shop.

She held her head very high indeed, and would not speak to this doll because it was “frumpish,” or that doll because it was not in the same set as herself. The China Doll she really could not be on intimate terms with, because she had a crack across her cheek. Fancy being seen walking with a cracky person! Also, she must really decline being introduced to the Farthing Doll. A very good, worthy person, no doubt, but really she and a doll worth a farthing could not possibly have many tastes in common.

As to the Rag Doll, she was a pushing person. At a tea-party at which they had both been present, she had asked Claribelle if she didn’t think that skirts were fuller. To think of discussing clothes with a creature of rags! The idea was really too comical!

It was thus, and in this proud spirit, that Claribelle talked about the other and more modest Toys. There were, indeed, very few that she would take the slightest notice of. As a matter of fact, when she walked down the counter she held her nose so much in the air that it was very rarely she saw anyone. She did not care in the least whether she trod on other people’s toes or not.

From this you will easily understand that she was a Toy who gained more admiration than love. There was, however, one who was truly devoted to Claribelle. This was the Driver of the Wagon, who was always of the opinion that beneath her haughty manner lay a kind heart. They were engaged to be married, and with true affection he often spoke to her about her haughty manner to the other Toys.

On such occasions Claribelle tossed her head and flew into a passion, often sulking for hours afterwards. Yet, although she so sorely tried the Driver’s patience, he continued to love her. And when all other means had failed he would often sing her back to good temper, for he had a beautiful tenor voice.

He was a little proud of his voice, and used to practise every night, partly because he loved music, also because he delighted to show his devotion to Claribelle by singing her little love-songs in a well-trained manner.

He was of a kindly, genial nature, so that you would have thought it was hardly possible to quarrel with him. But Claribelle’s pride not seldom caused a dispute between them, and she would often start a heated argument without any reason.

It was thus one day that a quarrel arose which ended in the most serious manner.

They were out driving in the Wagon, when the Driver, remembering he owed a call on the Farthing Doll, proposed that he and Claribelle should go thither.

“What!” she exclaimed haughtily. “Pay a call on that Farthing creature! Certainly not!”

“I, at least, must go, sooner or later,” the Driver replied.

“Why?” she asked much displeased.

“Because did I not call,” answered he kindly but firmly, “I should be lacking in courtesy to a lady who has never shown me anything but the utmost civility. However, since you do not wish it, I will not go to-day.”

“I do not wish you to go at all,” she said. “But I see it is quite sufficient for me to say that I do not desire you to do a thing, for you to do it.”

And after this she sulked and said she did not love him.

Upon this the Driver bethought him a new song he had just learnt, and he determined to sing it in the hope of winning her back to good temper. So he began:

“’Oh, down in Alabama, before I was set free,
I loved a dark-eyed, yaller girl,
And thought ’”

But he got no further, for here Claribelle interrupted him.

“Does that apply to me?” she said with flashing eyes.

“Well, you have dark eyes, you know,” he said pleasantly, hoping to make her smile. “Beautiful dark eyes, too.”

“Stop the wagon!” she said furiously. “I will not be so insulted. Dark eyes, yes; but yaller! yaller! yaller!”

“Allow me to explain. I only ” began the Driver.

Yaller, indeed! Stop the Wagon!”

“I should like to say

“A dark-eyed, yaller girl! Stop the Wagon, and consider our engagement at an end.”

Will you let me

But Claribelle shook her head furiously, and in her rage tried to jump out of the Wagon. So the Driver, fearing she would break her neck, did as she requested and pulled up his horse, when she immediately alighted. Then she swept away, flouncing her pink silk dress, and with her head in the air.

The Driver called later and tried to pacify her, but she would not listen. She only turned her back upon him which was a very rude thing to do and persisted in saying that their engagement was at an end.

So the Wagoner whipped up his horse and went away sad and sorry. He looked, indeed, so sad that the haughty Claribelle nearly repented of her pride and was just about to call him back.

“But he’ll return to-morrow,” she said to herself, “and he must be taught not to make false remarks about my complexion. Fancy calling me ‘yaller!’”

The next day he came as she expected.

“Do I still look yaller?” Claribelle asked scornfully.

“Let bygones be bygones,” said he. “Besides, I never called you yaller.”

“Our engagement is ended,” she said.

“Claribelle,” he said kindly but firmly, “listen to what I say. If you do not tame your proud temper, you will one day bring sorrow upon yourself.” Then he left, wounded and displeased.

The next day he came again.

“I may be going away,” he said, “to the other side of the shop, to the opposite counter.”

“Do I still look yaller?” Claribelle asked, tossing her head.

“Aren’t you sorry I am going?” he replied.

“I haven’t time to think of trifles,” she said haughtily.

“Cruel Claribelle,” he said. “I shall not send you a letter, not even a post-card.”

“Letters are dull,” she said coldly, “and post-cards are vulgar.”

“You will repent of this some day,” he replied. And he turned and went away in anger.

On the morrow he came once more.

“I have come to say good-bye,” he said.

“Oh!” she replied; but not a word more.

“Aren’t you sorry?” he asked again.

“Yes,” she replied, “because the Farthing Doll put her foot on my dress this morning in passing me, and tore it. She is a clumsy thing.”

“You are trying my patience too far,” he said. “Proud Claribelle, beware! Beware, proud Claribelle!”

“You confirm me in my resolution,” said she. “I will never marry a Toy who gives way to his temper over nothing. Once for all, our engagement is at an end.”

“I cannot believe that,” he said. “Do you really mean it?”

“Certainly,” she answered.

“So be it,” he replied.

Then he got up from his chair with dignity, made a low bow, mounted his Wagon, and drove away.

“I almost wish I had not said that,” thought the haughty Beauty uneasily. “I never meant him to go away so soon. If he had stayed I should, perhaps, have altered my mind. I will tell him so when he comes to-morrow.”

But next day he did not come. Then a few tears fell from Claribelle’s haughty eyes. Nor did he come on the next, and then she shed more. Nor on the following day; nor the day after that, nor the day after that, nor ever again! And each day poor Claribelle wept more and more, till it was sad to see her.

At last she heard the Wagoner had left the toy-shop altogether, and she knew she should never see him again. And she cried, and cried, and cried, till she cried away every bit of pride in her nature! Indeed, from being the proudest Toy in the shop she became the meekest and gentlest kind and thoughtful to all.

So the other Toys would often remark one to the other with surprise and pleasure:

“Lo! how poor Claribelle hath been chastened by sorrow!”

“Poor, poor Claribelle! I am sorry for her!” said the little girl.

“She had, indeed, a severe lesson,” answered the little Marionette.

“And did the Wagoner ever come back?”

“Never, never. He loved, but drove away.”

“How sad!” sighed the little girl.

“Sad, indeed,” said the Marionette. “Well, as I always say, let all young ladies take warning by the story of Proud Claribelle, and then it will not have been told in vain.”

There was a pause.

Then the little girl said:

“Next time you tell me a story I should like it to be happy all through. Happy, you know, from beginning to end.”

The little Marionette thought a few moments, then shook her head.

“I can’t remember such a story,” she said. “I think there must be very few.”

“I am sorry for that,” answered the little girl, disappointed. “I wanted very much to hear one.”

“We must take things as they are,” said the little lady cheerfully. “If I don’t know many stories that are happy all the way through, I know plenty that are so at the beginning, or the middle, or the end; or even more than that.”

“Which do you like best?” said the little girl.

“Oh, stories with a happy ending! You can forget that the beginning or middle has been sad, and you can go away smiling.”

“Then tell me to-morrow a story that ends happily.”

“If you will,” said the little Marionette.