Read CHAPTER III - THE BLUE PARASOL. of Aunt Madge's Story , free online book, by Sophie May, on

As I look back upon those make-believe days, naughty recollections spring up as fast as dust in August.

Ruphelle seems to me like a little white lily of the valley, all pure and sweet, but I was no more fit to be with her than a prickly thistle.  I loved dearly to tease her.  Once she had some bronze shoes, and I wanted some too, but there were none to be had in town, and to console myself, I said to dear little Fel, “I’d twice rather have black shoes, bronzes look so rusty; O, my!  If I couldn’t have black shoes I’d go barefoot.”

Fel did not wish me to see how ashamed this made her feel, but I could not help noticing afterwards that she never wore the bronze shoes to church.

I pined and fretted because I could not have nice things like her.  She had a coral necklace, and a blue silk bonnet, and a white dress, with flowers worked all over it with a needle.  Did my best dress have flowers worked over it with a needle?  I should think not.  And I hadn’t a speck of a necklace, nor any bonnet but just straw.  I did not know that Squire Allen was one of the wealthiest men in the state, and could afford beautiful things for his little daughter, while my father was poor, or at least not rich, and my mother had to puzzle her brains a good deal to contrive to keep her little romping, heedless, try-patience of a daughter looking respectable.

Once, when I was about six years old, I did a very naughty thing.  Why, Fly, what makes your eyes shine so?  Can it be you like to hear naughty stories?  Queer, isn’t it?  Ah, but this story makes me ashamed, even now that I am a grown-up woman.  Wait a minute; I must go back a little; it was the parasol that began it.

When Fel and I were going home from school one night, we stopped to take some of our make-believe slides.  Not far from our house, near the river-bank, were two sloping mounds, between which a brook had once run.  These little mounds were soft and green, and dotted with white innocence flowers; and what fun it was to start at the top of one of them, and roll over and over, down into the valley.  Somehow, Fel, being a lady-child, never stained her cape bonnet, while mine was all streaks; and she never tore her skirts off the waist; but what if I did tear mine?  They always grew together again, I never stopped to think how.

This time, as we were having a jolly roll, Madam Allen rode along in the carryall, with Tempy Ann driving.

“Stop, and let us see what those children are doing,” said she; and Tempy Ann stopped.

Fel and I danced upon our feet, and started to run to the carryall, but of course I tumbled down before I got there.  While I was picking my foot out of the hole in my frock, I heard Fel exclaim, joyfully, “O, mamma, is it for me?  What a beauty, beauty, beauty!”

“Yes, dear, I bought it for you, but if you are going to be a gypsy child, I suppose you won’t want it.”

I looked and saw the cunningest little sunshade, with its head tipped on one side, like a great blue morning glory.  Never again shall I behold anything so beautiful.  Queen Victoria’s crown and Empress Eugenie’s diamonds wouldn’t compare with it for a moment.  They say we feel most keenly those joys we never quite grasp; and I know that parasol, swinging round in Fel’s little hand, was more bewitching to me than if I had held it myself.  O, why wasn’t it mine?  I thought of Fel’s coral necklace, and blue silk bonnet, and the white dress with needlework flowers, and now if she was going to have a parasol too, I might as well die and done with it.

“O, Marjie, Marjie!” cried she, dancing up to me with her sweet little face in a glow, “do you see what I’ve got?”

I never answered.  I just lay there and kicked dirt with my shoe.  The carryall was in front of us, and Madam Allen could not see how I behaved.

“Come, little daughter,” called she, “jump in and ride home.”

But Fel thought she would rather walk with me, for I hadn’t noticed her parasol yet.  So her mother drove off.

“Isn’t it a teenty tonty beauty?” cried she, waving it before me.

I shut my teeth together and kicked.

“You haven’t looked, Marjie; see what a teenty tonty beauty!”

She never could quite enjoy her pretty things till I had praised them.  I knew that, and took a wicked pleasure in holding my tongue.

“Why, Marjie,” said she, in a grieved tone, “why don’t you look?  It’s the teenty tontiest beauty ever you saw.”

“There, that’s the threeth time you’ve said so, Fel Allen.”

“Well, it’s the truly truth, Madge Parlin.”

“No, it isn’t neither; and you’re a little lie-girl,” snapped I.

This was an absurd speech, and I did not mean a word of it, for I doubt if Fel had ever told a wrong story in her life.  “You’re a little lie-girl. Got a parasol, too!

She only looked sorry to see me so cross.  She couldn’t be very unhappy, standing there stroking those soft silk tassels.

“I hope your mamma ’ll give you one, too,” murmured the dear little soul.

I sprang up at that.

“O, do you s’pose she would?” I cried; and by the time I had taken another roll down the bank my spirits rose wonderfully, and I let her put the parasol in my hand, even exclaiming, ­

“No, I never did see anything so nice!” But I secretly hoped my own would be nicer still.

“Come home to my house,” said I, “and ask my mamma if I can have a parasol too.”

We were very near the house, and she went in with me.  Mother was in the kitchen, stewing apple-sauce for supper.  I remember what a tired look she had on her face, and how wearily she stirred the apple-sauce, which was bubbling in the porcelain kettle.

“You speak now,” whispered I to Fel.  “You speak first.”

This was asking a great deal of the dear little friend I had just called a lie-girl.  If she hadn’t loved me better, much better than I deserved, she would have turned and run away.  As it was, she called up all her courage, the timid little thing, and fluttering up to my mother, gently poked the end of the parasol into the bow of her black silk apron.

“Please, O, please, Mrs. Parlin, do look and see how pretty it is.”

That was as far as she could get for some time, till mother smiled and kissed her, and asked once or twice, “Well, dear, what is it?”

I ran into the shed and back again, too excited to stand still.  Mother was always so tender of Fel, that I did think she couldn’t refuse her.  I was sure, at any rate, she would say as much as, “We will see about it, dear;” but instead of that she gave her an extra hug, and answered sorrowfully, ­

“I wish I could buy Margaret a parasol; but really it is not to be thought of.”

I dropped into the chip-basket, and cried.

“If she knew how to take care of her things perhaps I might, but it is wicked to throw away money.”

“O, mamma, did you s’pose I’d let it fall in the hoss troth?” screamed I, remembering the fate of my last week’s hat, with the green vine round it.  “If you’ll only give me a pairsol, mamma, I won’t never carry it out to the barn, nor down to the river, nor anywhere ’n this world.  I’ll keep it in your bandbox, right side o’ your bonnet, where there don’t any mice come, or any flies, and never touch it, nor ask to see it, nor ­”

“There, that’ll do,” said mother, stopping me at full tide.  “I would be glad to please my little girl if I thought it would be right; but I have said No once, and after that, Margaret, you know how foolish it is to tease.”

Didn’t I know, to my sorrow?  As foolish as it would be to stand and fire popguns at the rock of Gibraltar.

I rushed out to the barn, and never stopped to look behind me.  Fel followed, crying softly; but what had I to say to that dear little friend, who felt my sorrows almost as if they were her own?

“You didn’t ask my mamma pretty, and that’s why she wouldn’t give me no pairsol.”

No thanks for the kind office she had performed for me; no apology for calling her a lie-girl.  Only, ­

“You didn’t ask my mamma pretty, Fel Allen.”

She choked down one little sob that ought to have broken my heart, and turned and went away.  You wonder she should have loved me.  I suppose I had “good fits;” they say I was honey-sweet sometimes; but as I recall my little days, it does seem to me as if I was always, always snubbing that precious child.  When she was out of sight, I dived head first into the hay, and tried for as much as ten minutes to hate my mother.  After a long season of sulks, such as it is to be hoped none of you ever indulged in, I stole back to the house through the shed, and Ruth, who did not know what had broken my heart, exclaimed, ­

“Why, Maggie, what ails you?  You’ve fairly cried your eyes out, child!”

I climbed a chair, and looked in the glass, which hung between the kitchen windows, and sure enough I was a sight to behold.  My eyes, always very large, were now red and swollen, and seemed bursting from their sockets.  I had never thought before that eyes could burst; but now I ran to Ruthie in alarm.

“I have cried my eyes out!  O, Ruthie, I’ve started ’em!”

She laughed at my distress, kissed me, and set me at ease about my eyeballs; but the parasol was denied me, and I was sure that, blind or not, I could never be happy without it.

The little bits of girls had afternoon parties that summer; it was quite the fashion; and not long after this Madam Allen made one for Fel.  Everybody said it was the nicest party we had had; for Tempy Ann made sailor-boy doughnuts, with sugar sprinkled on, and damson tarts, and lemonade, to say nothing of “sandiges,” with chicken in the middle.  I loved Fel dearly, I know I did; but by fits and starts I was so full of envy that I had to go off by myself and pout.

“A party and a pairsol the same year!  And Fel never ’spected the pairsol, and didn’t ask real hard for the party.  But that was always the way; her mamma wanted her to have good times, and so did Tempy Ann. Some folks’ mammas didn’t care!”

I was willing nice things should fall to Fel’s lot; but I wanted just as nice ones myself.

Fel showed the girls her “pairsol,” and they all said they meant to have one too; all but me; I could only stand and look on, with my eyeballs just ready to pop out of my head.

I remember what sick dolls we had that afternoon; and when any of them died, the live dolls followed them to the grave with weeping and wailing, and their wee handkerchiefs so full of grief that you could trace the procession by the tears that dripped upon the carpet.  Yes; but the mourners all had the cunningest little “pairsols” of nasturtium leaves.  There wasn’t a “single one doll” that marched without a pairsol, not even my Rosy Posy; for I had a motherly heart, and couldn’t mortify my child!  She should have “sumpin to keep the sun off,” if it cost the last cent her mamma had in the world!

I had a dismal fit just before supper, and went into Grandpa Harrington’s room, back of the parlor.  He was always fond of little folks, but very queer, as I have told you.  He had a fire in the fireplace, and was sitting before it, though it was summer.  He looked up when I went in, and said, “How do, darling?  My feet are as cold as a dead lamb’s tongue; does your father keep sheep?”

Next minute he said, ­

“My feet are as cold as a dog’s nose; does your father keep a dog?”

That was the way he rambled on from one thing to another.  But when he saw I was low-spirited, and found by questioning me that I needed a parasol, and couldn’t live long without one, he took me on his knee, and said kindly, ­

“Never mind it, Pet; you shall have a parasol.  I will give you one.”

I could hardly speak for joy.  I did not feel ashamed of myself till afterwards, for Grandpa Harrington did not seem like other people, and I saw no harm in whining to him about my troubles.