“What a capital housekeeper you will make some day,” said Fanny, as she watched Polly spread her table with a neatness and dispatch which was pleasant to behold.

“Yes, it’s good practice,” laughed Polly, filling her tiny teapot, and taking her place behind the tray with a matronly air, which was the best joke of the whole.

“This is the most delicious party I ever went to,” observed Maud, with her mouth full of honey, when the feast was well under way. “I do wish I could have a nice room like this, and a cat and a bird that wouldn’t eat each other up, and a dear little tea-kettle, and make just as much toast as I like.”

Such a peal of laughter greeted Maud’s pensive aspiration, that Miss Mills smiled over her solitary cup of tea, and little Nick burst into a perfect ecstasy of song, as he sat on the sugar-bowl helping himself.

“I don’t care for the toast and the kettle, but I do envy you your good spirits, Polly,” said Fanny, as the merriment subsided. “I’m so tired of everybody and everything, it seems sometimes as if I should die of ennui. Don’t you ever feel so?”

“Things worry me sometimes, but I just catch up a broom and sweep, or wash hard, or walk, or go at something with all my might, and I usually find that by the time I get through the worry is gone, or I’ve got courage enough to bear it without grumbling,” answered Polly, cutting the brown loaf energetically.

“I can’t do those things, you know; there’s no need of it, and I don’t think they’d cure my worrying,” said Fanny, languidly feeding Ashputtel, who sat decorously beside her at the table, winking at the cream pot.

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish someone would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbours, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

Fanny’s tone was bitter as well as discontented, her face sad as well as listless, and Polly had an instinctive feeling that some trouble, more real than any she had ever known before, was lying heavy at her friend’s heart. That was not the time to speak of it, but Polly resolved to stand ready to offer sympathy, if nothing more, whenever the confidential minute came; and her manner was so kind, so comfortable, that Fanny felt its silent magic, grew more cheerful in the quiet atmosphere of that little room, and when they said good-night, after an old-time gossip by the fire, she kissed her hostess warmly, saying, with a grateful look,—

“Polly, dear, I shall come often, you do me so much good.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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