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Pet's Half-crown Post by :CircleCity Category :Short Stories Author :Mary Louisa Molesworth Date :November 2011 Read :3130

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Pet's Half-crown

Mammas have troubles sometimes, though you mightn't think it. They have indeed. I remember when I was a little girl that it seemed to me big people couldn't have real troubles; that only children had them. Big people could do as they liked, get up when they liked, not go to bed till they liked; eat what they chose, dress as they pleased, do no lessons, and were never scolded. Things do not look quite like that to me now, when for many many more years than I was a child I have been a big person. However, as each of you will find out for himself or herself all about big people in good time, I won't try to explain it to you. Only, I do think the world might get on better if little people believed that big ones have their troubles, and--if big people believed and remembered the same thing about little ones.

Some children seem wise before their time. They early learn what "sympathy" means--they begin almost before they can talk to try to bear some part of other people's burdens.

A little girl I once knew, who was called "Pet," (though of course she had a proper name as well,) was one of these. She was a gentle little thing, with large soft rather anxious-looking blue eyes; eyes that filled with tears rather too easily, perhaps, both for her own troubles and other people's.

But she got more sensible as she grew older, and by the time she was ten or so she had found out that there are often much better ways of showing you are sorry for others than by crying about them, and that as for crying about ourselves, it is always a bad plan, though I know it can't quite be helped now and then.

Pet was the eldest, and a very useful "understanding" little eldest she was. She knew that her mother had troubles sometimes, and she did her best to smooth them away whenever she possibly could.

One of the things she was often able to do to help her mother was by keeping her little brothers and sisters happy and amused when they came down to the drawing-room in the evening, and now and then, if it were a rainy day, earlier. For mamma felt sorry for the children if they were shut up in the nursery for long, and as all little people know, a change to the drawing-room is very pleasant for them, though sometimes rather tiring for mammas.

It happened one afternoon, a very wet and cold afternoon in January, when there was no possibility of going out, that all the children were downstairs together. There were four of them besides Pet, and it was not very easy to amuse them all. But Pet was determined to do her very best--for she knew that mamma was particularly busy that day, as she had all her accounts to do. And indeed poor mamma would have been very glad to have a quiet afternoon, but nurse had a headache, and baby, who had had a bad night, was sleeping peacefully for the first time, and must not be disturbed. There was nothing for it but to bring the little troop downstairs.

"We will be very good and quiet, mamma dear," said Pet. "You can go on doing your accounts, for I know you can't do them this evening, as aunty is coming. Charley and I,"--Charley was the next in age to Pet--"will show all our best picture-books to the little ones."

Charley was very proud to hear himself counted a big one with Pet, and he did all he could to help her. They really managed to keep the others quiet, and Pet was hoping that mamma was getting on nicely with her long rows of figures, and that soon she would be calling out gladly, "All right. I can come and play with you now," when to her distress she heard her mother give a deep sigh.

"Oh, dear mamma, what's the matter?" she said, "are we disturbing you?"

"No, darling, you are as quiet as mice," her mother replied. "But I don't know how it is--I have counted it all up again and again, and I am sure I have put down everything I have spent, but I am half-a-crown wrong. Dear, dear--what a pity it is! Just as I thought I had finished."

And again mamma sighed. She did not like to think she had perhaps lost half-a-crown, for she and Pet's father had not any half-crowns to spare.

"I will just go and see if possibly it is in my little leather bag that I always take out with me," she said. And she rose as she spoke and left the room.

Pet felt sure it was not in the little bag, for she had been standing by when her mother emptied it.

"Poor mamma," she said softly. "I can't bear her to be troubled."

Then the colour rose into her face and her eyes sparkled.

"Charley," she whispered, "keep the little ones quiet for one minute," and off she flew.

She was back in less than a minute, though she had found time to run up to her room and take something out of a drawer where she kept her treasures. Then she ran across to her mother's writing-table and slipped this something under the account-books, lying open upon it.

And almost immediately mamma came back.

"No," she said sadly, "it was not in my bag. I fear I have lost it somehow, for I am sure my accounts are right. I must just put it down as lost."

But in another moment came a joyful cry.

"Pet," she exclaimed, "would you believe I could be so stupid? Here it is--the missing half-crown--slipped under my account book! I am so pleased to have found it. Now, children dear, mammy can come and play with you with a light heart."

"I am so glad you are happy again, mamma darling," said Pet; and if her mother noticed that her little girl's cheeks were rosier than usual, and her eyes brighter, no doubt she only thought it was with the pleasure of all playing together. For I don't think they had ever had a merrier visit to the drawing-room.

You have guessed the secret before this, I am sure? That little Pet had fetched her own half-crown to play a loving trick with it. It was her only half-crown, her only money, except one sixpenny-bit and two pennies! But she gave it gladly, just saying to herself that it was a very good thing Christmas-time was over and no birthdays very near at hand.

And she kept her secret well. So well, that though a great many years have passed since then, it was only a very little while ago that her mother heard, for the first time, the story of her child's loving self-denial. The smile on mamma's face, and the knowledge that she had brought it there were Pet's only reward.


(The end)
Mary Louisa Molesworth's short story: Pet's Half-Crown

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