E. Stuart Phelps. Tiny.
Boston: Henry A. Young & Co., 1869
"Why--ee!" said Tiny.
If you have ever happened to read "Ellen's Idol," you will, I think, feel well enough acquainted with Tiny not to need a second introduction. If you have not, you may well like to know that she was nearly six years old; that she lived in the country; that her face was all covered with little dimples, her eyes all filled with blue lights, and her hair all in a tangle of short yellow curls; that she could cry as hard as most young ladies of her age, if she wanted to, but on the whole, and as a usual thing, she found it more agreeable to laugh; that she talked very fast, and was not over-particular about her grammar; that she liked to eat sugar, dress her pet rabbit up in her mother's best bonnet and shawl, make boats out of her father's newspapers at the particular hour when he wanted them to read; and have a good time generally. Also that she had a sister, Ellen, a brother, Fred, and a brother who, I suppose, must have had a name but I have really forgotten what it was, -- for he was never called anything but baby.
"Why--ee!" repeated Tiny. "It is! I know it is -- I always knew it was -- and only think I've only just gone and found it out."
"Found out what, Tiny?" asked her mother, looking up form her sewing.
But all she could see of Tiny was the tip-end of a little copper-toed shoe, disappearing round the edge of the door. Presently a crown of bits of bright curls and a very round, very red, very warm little face took the place of the copper toes, and Tiny came back with both hands just as full of something as they could be. She ran up, and poured it all down on her mother's lapful of stockings.
"I telled you so, mamma! all alive and growin' straight up."
"Why, Tiny, what is the matter?" this is nothing but grass," said her mother, gathering up the delicate, golden-green spears from her work-basket, and out of the folds in her pile of unmended stockings where they had fallen. "See! you have sprinkled it all over my work."
"Oh, you can pick it out again," said Tiny; "you ought to be real glad like me. I did come just as near walking on my head when I saw it out the window, -- only I was afraid I'd tumble over. Fred did one day. It was the day we had blue-mange for dinner."
"It's very pretty and fresh, Tiny. There! you can put it in your apron and carry it off. I don't see what you wanted to walk on your head for."
"Why, mamma, I shouldn't think you'd forget so soon! You know you said I might have a garden when the grass came."
"Oh, that's it, is it? How much of a garden do you expect to have, Tiny?"
"Oh, a big one -- bigger'n Mr. Stuart's, I guess. I think I'll go right out now, mamma, and plough it up."
"But, Tiny," said her mother, smiling "you can't make a garden alone; you must wait until I can go and show you about it."
"Well!" said Tiny, starting for the door.
"Tiny! Where are you going?"
"Going out to plough it up. Why don't you come, mamma?"
Her mother said she could not come til her stockings were mended; that if Tiny would be patient, and wait quietly, she would go then and see about the garden. Tiny went up to the window.
"Mamma, it's just going to rain by'm-by."
"I do not think it will rain, Tiny."
Tiny fidgeted about the room, hummed a mournful snatch of Greenville, looked as if her last earthly hope were taken from her and went to the window again.
"O mamma! I do believe we'll have a snow-storm before supper, and then you know you couldn't plant my garden, and how sorry you would be!"
Her mother said nothing.
"Mamma," said Tiny, looking suddenly very bright, "I don't guess we'll anybody want any stockings next week. There's a whole pile of 'em in my drawer, and I could lend 'em round, you know."
Stitch, stitch, stitch, went the needle through the gaping holes. Tiny saw by her mother's face that she was much too busy to talk; so she began to sigh very dismally. She liked the sound of it so well that she thought she would keep it up till her mother stopped working. The process proved quite interesting; and she had entirely forgotten the garden in the endeavor to adapt Yankee Doodle to that cheerful style of harmony, when, all at once, her breath gave out and she had to stop short.
"Oh, dear," said she in a whisper.
Stitch, stitch, stitch, went the busy needle.
"Oh, de-ar!" she said, a little louder.
Her mother took a fresh pair of stockings.
"Oh, dear me!" said Tiny, quite aloud.
"Tiny, said her mother, "you must be a patient little girl."
"I don't want to be a patient little girl. I want to go out and plough."
Her mother threaded her needle.
"Mother!" observed Tiny, after a moment of apparently profound meditation. "I heard of an unpatient little girl once. She was sitting, and blowin' Yankee Doodle. I heard about her -- why, I guess I heard about her in a story-book. Wasn't she a funny little girl?"
"Very funny," said her mother.
"I guess she went off pretty soon. If I'd ever known that little girl I'd a sent her off, -- wouldn't you, mamma?"
"I should have been very glad to have her go, Tiny."
Tiny returned to the window and began to draw houses through the mist that her breath left on the glass. She did not say another word, till her mother folded up the last stocking and put away her work basket. Then she gave a little gasp of relief.
"Oh, I never! I never knew me to behave so well, -- did you, mamma?"
"You have done very nicely, said her mother; "now I will go out with you."
Tiny cold not keep still long enough to walk by her mother's side, so she ran on alone, bareheaded, in the bright spring sunlight.
"Here is a place you can have," said her mother, stopping in a little green corner by the fence. "It is just about large enough, and I guess father will have it dug up for you to-morrow or next day."
"I'm afraid I ought to be ploughing while it's pleasant," remarked Tiny, looking wisely at the clouds; "then I might be busy to-morrow, and you know, mamma, I can spare the time this afternoon just as well as not."
"You mustn't be in too much of a hurry, Tiny," said her mother smiling. "Father will attend to it as soon as it is convenient."
"I should like to know," said Fred, coming up, "what's your important business, Miss Tiny, -- a little girl like you!" (Fred was three dignified years her senior. "Why you've got all summer to make gardens in."
Tiny gave him a look of indignation, not unmingled with pity, for his ignorance.
"Fred Howe! that's all you know about it. There aint one of my dolls has got a mite of her spring sewin' done up, -- not one; and I'd oughter cleaned house last week, but they all had the mizzles and the squally fever, and kep' me up nights with 'em, and, of course, I'm all wore out -- so!"
"What do you want in your garden, Tiny?" asked her mother, clearing away the dead leaves from the grass-plot.
"Well, some sparrow-grass and some beets and tulips and sweet-peas and -- and -- oh, I do guess I'll have a cabbage and a honey-suckle and -- why! all the rest of it."
Fred began to laugh.
"There isn't anything to laugh at," said Tiny, with an air of calm superiority. "I'm a going to have 'em for dinner when they get grown."
"Mamma," said Tiny, in a confidential whisper, "I don't think Fred knows very much!"
"What'll you bet," put in Fred, breaking off an absorbed whistle, "that you wont touch this garden at the end of a fortnight.?"
"Of course I shall! I'm going to keep ploughin', oh, all summer."
"You'll be sick to death of it in a week, wont she, mother?"
"It will be a great deal of work to keep a garden, Tiny," said Mrs. Howe.
"I don't care, answered Tiny; "I'll like it all the better. I'm a going to get up early mornins'. You know this is a busy world, mamma."
"A fortnight from to-day!" observed Fred, in his most tormenting tones.
Tiny felt too much insulted to reply. She gave him as severe a look as her great blue eyes were capable of, and began clearing away the leaves by the fence in dignified silence.
Her father dug up the garden that night; Fred wheeled away the leaves and rubbish; and Ellen promised to mark out the beds before school the next day. Tiny could hardly wait till morning came. She talked about tulips and asparagus till she went to sleep; dreamed about cabbages all night, and, when she first opened her eyes in the morning, she thought the bedpost was a great sweet pea, and that all the little spots of sunlight on the counterpane were marigolds.
"Ellen," she whispered softly, "Ellen, it isn't good for people to lie abed late."
But Ellen did not stir.
"Oh, hum! El-len!"
Ellen half opened her eyes. Tiny sat up in bed and began to sing on a very high key, --
"Tis the voice of the sugared
I hear him complain."
Ellen opened her eyes a little wider.
"I don't think those peas ought to be soakin' in the wash-bowl any longer," said Tiny. "I guess we'll go out and begin to commence now."
She was not sure whether Ellen would be cross or not, and watched her with some anxiety. Ellen closed her eyes again, and threatened to go to sleep, but at the end of two minutes, she woke with a jump, and began to dress herself and Tiny quite pleasantly. After they were dressed, Tiny took the peas and the papers of seeds, which her mother had left for her on the bureau, and they went out into the garden.
Ellen went to work very patiently, and marked out the little three-cornered plat into squares and diamonds and triangles and bits of paths that put Tiny into an ecstasy.
"Oh!" she said with a sign of admiration, sitting down flat in the wet grass, to watch Ellen's skilful fingers. "Oh, you are just the nicest!"
"It's a great deal better to have it look pretty," said Ellen, looking pleased.
"There! now we can begin to plant."
Tiny had put the seeds in her pocket; she began to take them out in a great hurry.
"Take care, Tiny! not so fast," said Ellen looking up. The pocket was full. A handkerchief, a mitten, a slate-pencil, and one of the baby's shoes, quite overwhelmed the papers of seeds, which had slipped to the bottom. She jerked out the handkerchief and broke the slate pencil, and then half the pocket turned wrong side out, and the other half got twisted.
"Ugh! Oh! the old thing!" said Tiny, growing very red in the face.
"Be careful, Tiny; you'll spill them."
"Oh! I hate em; they oughter know better'n to do so, -- there!"
Out came Tiny's hands with a great pull, and out came the seeds with them, pell-mell, helter-skelter, down onto her lap, off into the grass, -- all over the diamonds and triangles, -- larkspur and sweet pea and marigold all rolling together, and the mignonette pouring out of its broken paper down into her shoes.
"There!" said Ellen.
Tiny's angry little fingers fell idle into her lap, and the crimson burned redder and redder in her cheeks; she was much too astonished to speak, so she sat staring at the runaway seeds.
"It's because you were in such a dreadful hurry," continued Ellen, laying down her trowel. Tiny stood up, poured out her lapful of seeds on the ground, emptied the mignonette out of her shoes, then sat down in the grass, and without any introductory remarks, opened her mouth wide and began to cry. She cried so loud that her mother heard her in the house, and came running out to see what was the matter.
"She got mad at her seeds," explained Ellen, gathering up the larkspur as best she could.
"They went and got stuck in my pocket," said Tiny, stopping short in the midst of a sob; "I don't care; I hate 'em."
"Tiny," said her mother gently.
Tiny began to cry again.
"Tiny, do you remember that little girl we talked about yesterday afternoon?"
Tiny hid her face.
"You need not cry any more about the seeds. I can very easily pick up all you want to plant, and I will come out myself after breakfast and plant them four you."
The breakfast bell rang then, and Tiny stopped crying and followed her mother and sister slowly into the house. When they came to the door, she pulled on her mother's dress.
"What is it, Tiny?"
"Mamma," she is the impatientest little girl! I guess God was mistooken when he made her, -- don't you? I don't believe he likes her very much."
"I think he was sorry she was impatient. He loves her a great deal more, now," said her mother.
After breakfast the seeds were rearranged as best they could be, and properly planted. Tiny spent the rest of the day in making a little rail fence around her garden, and at night she brought out all the convalescent dolls to walk up and down the bits of paths.
Scanned/transcribed by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series webpage. Please do not use on other pages without permission.
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Copyright 2003 by Deidre Johnson