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As for Lily, she hardly ever noticed Amelia. She was not aware that she herself was an object of adoration; for she was a little girl who searched for admiration in the eyes of little boys rather than little girls, although very innocently. She always glanced slyly at Johnny Trumbull when she wore a pretty new frock, to see if he noticed. He never did, and she was sharp enough to know it. She was also child enough not to care a bit, but to take a queer pleasure in the sensation of scorn which she felt in consequence. She would eye Johnny from head to foot, his boy's clothing somewhat spotted, his bulging pockets, his always dusty shoes, and when he twisted uneasily, not understanding why, she had a thrill of purely feminine delight. It was on one such occasion that she first noticed Amelia Wheeler particularly.
It was a lovely warm morning in May, and Lily was a darling to behold -- in a big hat with a wreath of blue flowers, her hair tied with enormous blue silk bows, her short skirts frilled with eyelet embroidery, her slender silk legs, her little white sandals. Madame's maid had not yet struck the Japanese gong, and all the pupils were out on the lawn, Amelia, in her clean, ugly gingham and her serviceable brown sailor hat, hovering near Lily, as usual, like a common, very plain butterfly near a particularly resplendent blossom. Lily really noticed her. She spoke to her confidentially; she recognized her fully as another of her own sex, and presumably of similar opinions.
"Ain't boys ugly, anyway?" inquired Lily of Amelia, and a wonderful change came over Amelia. Her sallow cheeks bloomed; her eyes showed blue glitters; her little skinny figure became instinct with nervous life. She smiled charmingly, with such eagerness that it smote with pathos and bewitched.
"Oh yes, oh yes," she agreed, in a voice like a quick flute obbligato. "Boys are ugly."
"Such clothes!" said Lily.
"Yes, such clothes!" said Amelia.
"Always spotted," said Lily.
"Always covered all over with spots," said Amelia.
"And their pockets always full of horrid things," said Lily.
"Yes," said Amelia.
Amelia glanced openly at Johnny Trumbull; Lily with a sidewise effect.
Johnny had heard every word. Suddenly he arose to action and knocked down Lee Westminster, and sat on him.
"Lemme up!" said Lee.
Johnny had no quarrel whatever with Lee. He grinned, but he sat still. Lee, the sat-upon, was a sharp little boy. "Showing off before the gals!" he said, in a thin whisper.
"Hush up!" returned Johnny.
"Will you give me a writing-pad -- I lost mine, and mother said I couldn't have another for a week if I did -- if I don't holler?" inquired Lee.
"Yes. Hush up!"
Lee lay still, and Johnny continued to sit upon his prostrate form. Both were out of sight of Madame's windows, behind a clump of the cedars which graced her lawn.
"Always fighting," said Lily, with a fine crescendo of scorn. She lifted her chin high, and also her nose.
"Always fighting," said Amelia, and also lifted her chin and nose. Amelia was a born mimic. She actually looked like Lily, and she spoke like her.
Then Lily did a wonderful thing. She doubled her soft little arm into an inviting loop for Amelia's little claw of a hand.
"Come along, Amelia Wheeler," said she. "We don't want to stay near horrid, fighting boys. We will go by ourselves."
And they went. Madame had a headache that morning, and the Japanese gong did not ring for fifteen minutes longer. During that time Lily and Amelia sat together on a little rustic bench under a twinkling poplar, and they talked, and a sort of miniature sun-and-satellite relation was established between them, although neither was aware of it. Lily, being on the whole a very normal little girl, and not disposed to even a full estimate of herself as compared with others of her own sex, did not dream of Amelia's adoration, and Amelia, being rarely destitute of self-consciousness, did not understand the whole scope of her own sentiments. It was quite sufficient that she was seated close to this wonderful Lily, and agreeing with her to the verge of immolation.
"Of course," said Lily, "girls are pretty, and boys are just as ugly as they can be."
"Oh yes," said Amelia, fervently.
"But," said Lily, thoughtfully, "it is queer how Johnny Trumbull always comes out ahead in a fight, and he is not so very large, either."
"Yes," said Amelia, but she realized a pang of jealousy. "Girls could fight, I suppose," said she.
"Oh yes, and get their clothes all torn and messy," said Lily.
"I shouldn't care," said Amelia. Then she added, with a little toss, "I almost know I could fight." The thought even floated through her wicked little mind that fighting might be a method of wearing out obnoxious and durable clothes.
"You!" said Lily, and the scorn in her voice wilted Amelia.
"Maybe I couldn't," said she.
"Of course you couldn't, and if you could, what a sight you'd be. Of course it wouldn't hurt your clothes as much as some, because your mother dresses you in strong things, but you'd be sure to get black and blue, and what would be the use, anyway? You couldn't be a boy, if you did fight."
"No. I know I couldn't."
"Then what is the use? We are a good deal prettier than boys, and cleaner, and have nicer manners, and we must be satisfied."
"You are prettier," said Amelia, with a look of worshipful admiration at Lily's sweet little face.
"You are prettier," said Lily. Then she added, equivocally, "Even the very homeliest girl is prettier than a boy."
Poor Amelia, it was a good deal for her to be called prettier than a very dusty boy in a fight. She fairly dimpled with delight, and again she smiled charmingly. Lily eyed her critically.
"You aren't so very homely, after all, Amelia," she said. "You needn't think you are."
Amelia smiled again.
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Freeman's Short Stories -by- Mary E. Wilkins FreemanBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.