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       Karen's Doll, p.2

           Ann M. Martin
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  “She will be even better when she gets this card I made! I brought it to school so everyone could sign it,” I said. I unwrapped Nancy’s giant get well card. I could see Ms. Colman was impressed.

  “I am sure that will cheer Nancy a lot,” she said. “Why don’t you take the card around before attendance?”

  Oh, goody! Kids were starting to come in already. I was sorry I had to tell them such sad news. But I had to for Nancy’s sake. This was an important job.

  “Did you hear about Nancy?” I said. “She is in the hospital. She had a very serious operation and she does not have an appendix anymore.”

  “What’s an appendix?” asked Natalie Springer.

  I had been hoping someone would ask me that. More kids were coming in. I waited so I could tell everyone. I saw Ricky. And Bobby Gianelli. Then Hannie walked in.

  “Hi, Hannie!” I called. “I am telling everyone about Nancy.”

  Pamela Harding walked in with Leslie Morris and Jannie Gilbert. I could see Pamela was jealous that everyone was crowding around me.

  I repeated the news about Nancy and her operation.

  “And for those of you who do not know what an appendix is, I will tell you. It is inside your belly — on the right side. You do not need it, so if it hurts, it gets taken out.”

  (Natalie Springer was rubbing her belly. She’s funny about things like that.)

  “I made a get well card, and everyone who wants to can sign it. I would pass it around, but the glitter could come off. So if you want to sign Nancy’s card, line up in front of me.”

  Hannie got to sign it first because she was a fellow Musketeer. She wrote something really nice: “There’s no such thing as two Musketeers. Get well soon. I miss you!”

  I heard Pamela say she’d make her own card. But Leslie said Nancy might feel bad if they did not sign mine. So they got in line.

  More kids were coming in. Terri and Tammy, the twins. And Hank. And Audrey. I let Hannie hold the card while I went to tell them about Nancy. I did not want anyone else telling them. They might get things wrong.

  I started from the beginning.

  “Did you hear about poor Nancy?” I asked. And I told them the whole story.

  The Hospital

  Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen … I was counting the names on Nancy’s get well card when Mommy pulled up in front of school.

  “Look how many people signed Nancy’s card!” I said. “I got every kid in class, plus Ms. Colman. And I got Mr. Mackey.” (He’s the art teacher. He said the card was very beautiful.) “I got Mr. Berger.” (He teaches next door.) “I got Mr. Fitzwater.” (He’s the janitor.) “I even got Ms. Garber to sign.” (She’s our principal.)

  “I want to write my name,” said Andrew.

  “Don’t worry. There is plenty of room,” I said. “Mommy, will you sign the card, too? And then can we go to the hospital? I want Nancy to get her card right away.”

  I was glad the hospital was not very far. I could hardly wait to visit Nancy.

  That is why I was so, so mad when we got there and the man at the desk said I was not allowed to go see her.

  “Children under twelve may not visit patients unless they are immediate family,” he said.

  “We’re Musketeers!” I replied. “That is family.”

  The man smiled. “I’m sorry,” he said. But he still would not let me see Nancy. I explained that I had a very important card to deliver.

  “I will be glad to see that she gets it,” said the man. He reached over the desk for Nancy’s card.

  “Wait,” I said, pulling it out of reach. “I have to make sure the card goes to the right Nancy. My friend’s name is Nancy Dawes. That’s D-A-W-E-S. D like in dog, A like in apple, W like in wig,” (I hoped he wasn’t wearing one) “E like in egg, S like in socks.”

  “D-A-W-E-S,” said the man. “I have her name right here on my list. She’s in room three-oh-nine.” He reached for the card.

  “Wait!” I said, pulling it back again. “Maybe they switched her room. Could you take it up to her yourself? Please?”

  The man was not smiling anymore. But he promised to take the card to Nancy on his coffee break. He reached for the card. Finally I gave it to him.

  Mommy took my hand and started leading me away.

  “That’s D-A-W-E-S!” I called over my shoulder. “And thank you!”

  When we got into the car, Mommy told me she was not one bit happy with my behavior.

  “But I had to be sure Nancy got her card. And I made sure to say thank you,” I told her.

  By the time we got home, Mommy was not mad anymore. She gave me a snack. Then she said I could call Nancy.

  As soon as someone answered at the hospital, I asked for Nancy and started to spell her name.

  “I already know how to spell it,” said the man on the phone. (It was the same man as before.) “You will be happy to know that your friend has your card. If you hold on, I’ll connect you.”

  The phone rang twice. Then Nancy answered. She sounded like she always did! She said she loved her card. She was sad, though, that she could not see me. Nancy sounded lonely.

  Suddenly I got an idea. Maybe I could not visit Nancy. But I knew someone who could. Kristy! She was thirteen. She could go in my place!

  The next day would be Friday. Andrew and I were going to the big house. I did not want to tell anyone my plan just yet. But the minute I got to the big house, I was going to talk to Kristy.

  Karen’s Special Gift

  It was Saturday morning at the big house. Mommy had driven Andrew and me there the day before.

  “Good morning, Moosie. Good morning, Hyacynthia,” I said. (I had introduced them Friday night. They were instant best friends.)

  The other thing I did when I got to the big house was talk to Kristy. I told her my plan about visiting Nancy at the hospital. Kristy knows Nancy because Nancy comes over to play at the big house all the time. Kristy said she would be happy to go. (I told you she was a great sister.)

  I got dressed, fed Crystal Light the Second (I had forgotten to do it Friday night), then hurried downstairs.

  Andrew was there eating a bowl of Crunch-O cereal. I poured myself some.

  “How’s Hiawatha?” he asked.

  “Who? Oh, you mean Hyacynthia!” I said.

  “Right. You could let her ride my bus if you want,” said Andrew.

  “Thanks. Maybe later,” I replied.

  Then Kristy came in. “I am almost ready to leave,” she said. “I want to get to the hospital as early as I can.”

  “I wish I could go,” I said. “Maybe if I dressed up in Nannie’s clothes, they would think I was Nancy’s grandmother. I could put powder in my hair to make it gray. I could borrow Nannie’s glasses. I could …”

  Kristy was laughing. “I don’t think it would work,” she said. “I better go myself. Is there anything you want me to give Nancy?”

  I had to think. I had already given Nancy the card. But she is one of my two very best friends. I wanted to think of something else. And I did. I knew just what Nancy would like best.

  A visit with Hyacynthia! I could lend Nancy my doll to keep her company while she was in the hospital. I would miss Hyacynthia, but Nancy needed her more than I did just then. And Hyacynthia would be back with me soon.

  “I want you to take Hyacynthia to Nancy,” I said. “I think she would like that.”

  “Are you sure?” asked Kristy, wide-eyed. (I could tell she thought I was a really great friend.)

  “Sure,” I said proudly. “I’ll be right back.”

  I ran upstairs to pack Hyacynthia’s traveling basket. I put in some toys, her favorite book about Paddington Bear (he came from England, too), a rattle, a diaper, and a hat and a sweater in case she got cold.

  “You are going on a little trip, Hyacynthia. But don’t worry. You will not be gone for very long. You are going to stay with our good friend Nancy. She’s the one who helped name you, remember? She loves you a lot. Almost as much as
I do.”

  “Is Hyacynthia ready to go?” called Kristy from downstairs.

  “She’s ready!” I answered. I kissed Hyacynthia, covered her with a blanket, and brought her downstairs.

  It was hard giving Hyacynthia to Kristy. But I knew I would have her back soon.

  “Say hi to Nancy for me,” I said.

  “I will,” said Kristy. She closed the door behind her.

  “Good-bye, Hyacynthia!” I called.

  Hyacynthia’s Trip

  “Do you want to play with me?” asked Andrew. “We could dress up like creepy creatures.”

  “I can’t. I am waiting for Kristy,” I answered.

  I was sitting in the living room of the big house. I was not reading a book. I was not watching TV. And I was not going to play dress-up. All I could think about was Kristy coming home. I had to hear how Hyacynthia’s trip had been.

  Daddy came into the room. “Nannie and Elizabeth are going to bake some cookies, Karen. Why don’t you help them?”

  “I can’t, Daddy. I am waiting for — ”

  I did not get to finish. The door opened. Kristy was home!

  “Hi, Kristy!” I cried. “How was Hyacynthia?”

  “Shouldn’t you be asking about Nancy? She was the one who had the operation,” said Kristy.

  “I know. But I talked to Nancy already. This is Hyacynthia’s first trip away from me,” I explained.

  “Well, Nancy and Hyacynthia are doing just fine,” said Kristy. “Nancy says she feels better every day. She will probably leave the hospital next Tuesday.”

  Goody, I thought. I wanted them both to come back soon.

  “Nancy was so happy to have Hyacynthia. It was really generous of you to give your new doll to your friend,” said Kristy.

  Hyacynthia had not been away for very long. But I missed her already. Even so, I felt proud I was sharing her with Nancy.

  Now that Kristy had told me everything was all right, I could bake some cookies.

  “Your job is to mix the batter,” said Nannie when I went into the kitchen. “We are making our special oatmeal raisin cookies.”

  They were special because we used the raisins to make faces.

  “One, two, fee, four …” Emily was counting the raisins. We needed ten. (That was how high Emily could count.) Two raisins for the eyes. Two raisins for the nose. And six raisins made a smile.

  Ring! Ring! Elizabeth answered the phone.

  “It’s for you, Karen. It’s Nancy,” said Elizabeth. She passed the phone to me.

  Nancy sounded really happy.

  “Thank you so much for Hyacynthia. She is such good company,” said Nancy. “Guess what!” she continued. “The doctor said if I am feeling all right, I can go back to school a week after I get out of the hospital. That means I could be at school a week from Tuesday.”

  “That’s great!” I said. “Is Hyacynthia having a good time?”

  “Oh, yes,” said Nancy. “I read her part of the Paddington book. I gave her some of my Jell-O. And … oh, the nurse is here now. I have to hang up. ’Bye. And thanks again for Hyacynthia.”

  “ ’Bye,” I said.

  I started to feel a little ache in my belly. Maybe I was getting appendicitis. Maybe I was just worried about Hyacynthia. There is nothing to worry about, I told myself. Hyacynthia is safe with Nancy. And they will both be home next Tuesday.

  I went back to making cookies. Two raisins for the eyes. Two for the nose. Six for the mouth.

  When the cookies were ready, we had a little tea party. (I was sad Hyacynthia was not there. She would have loved it.)

  I tried to keep busy the rest of the day.

  The next morning was Sunday. On Sundays I go back to the little house. Uh-oh, I thought. I was going to have to go back without Hyacynthia.

  Mommy was not going to be happy at all.

  The First Lie

  Honk! Honk! Seth was waiting outside the big house to take Andrew and me home.

  “How was your weekend?” he asked.

  “It was fun,” I said. “I helped bake funny-face cookies. I brought some for you and Mommy.”

  “They’re good. I ate six!” said Andrew.

  “Thanks, Karen,” said Seth. Seth must have had things on his mind. Lucky for me. He did not ask about Hyacynthia once.

  But as soon as we walked into the house, Mommy saw that I did not have my doll basket.

  “Where is Hyacynthia?” she asked.

  Double uh-oh. This could be worse than I had thought.

  “I brought you funny-face cookies. I helped bake them,” I said cheerfully. I hoped she would forget her question. She didn’t.

  “Where is Hyacynthia?” Mommy repeated.

  “Yeah, where is Hippopotamus?” asked Andrew. “She did not ride my bus all weekend.”

  I gave Andrew a mean look. I needed to think. Somehow I got the feeling it would be better if I did not tell Mommy exactly where Hyacynthia was. She might not think the hospital was such a good place for my doll.

  “Well, um … um … I forgot her at Daddy’s house,” I said.

  “Oh, Karen, you didn’t,” said Mommy.

  She did not look too, too upset. After all, she knew Hyacynthia would be safe at Daddy’s house. I leave things there all the time.

  Only I didn’t leave Hyacynthia. I would have remembered to take her with me. Now Mommy would not know how grown-up I am.

  And she would not know what a kind and generous friend I am. I gave my brand-new English baby doll that I love to a sick friend. I wished I could tell Mommy. But I was afraid she would not understand.

  “You will be without Hyacynthia for two weeks now until you go back to Daddy’s. I think maybe that will teach you not to forget her again,” said Mommy.

  Boo. Two weeks without Hyacynthia. But, wait. I had lent her to Nancy. And Nancy was coming home Tuesday. I would get Hyacynthia back then. But what would I tell Mommy when she showed up?

  Maybe I could hide Hyacynthia till the next time I came back from Daddy’s. No. That would be too hard.

  I know. I will tell Mommy that I asked Hannie to get my doll from Daddy’s house and bring her to school.

  Oh, boy. I could see how quickly one little lie could turn into two little lies. Well, as soon as I had Hyacynthia back, it would be over. I knew I should not lie. But so far my lie was just a little one.

  Maybe I should not have sent Hyacynthia to keep Nancy company. I had thought I was being nice. But now I had broken a rule. And I did not want Mommy to be mad.

  Oh, boy! It’s hard to follow grown-up rules. Sometimes it is hard just to figure out what the rules are!

  The Big Mix-Up

  It’s Tuesday! It’s Tuesday! Nancy might come home today. And if Nancy comes home, Hyacynthia will come home. I will get to see my best friend and my best doll at the same time.

  Mommy drove me home from school and said I could go straight to Nancy’s after my snack. (Peanut butter crackers always get stuck to the roof of your mouth. It takes forever to get them unstuck.)

  I drank my milk. Then I headed for Nancy’s house. Mrs. Dawes was waiting at the front door. Good news or bad news?

  Good news! Nancy was home!

  “Hi, Nancy!” I called. I started running upstairs. Then I stopped. Mrs. Dawes was saying something to me.

  “Karen, I want you to know how generous we think you are. It was so nice of you to give your doll to Nancy.”

  Huh? I knew it was nice of me to let Hyacynthia keep Nancy company in the hospital. But it was only a loan. Mrs. Dawes must have been confused.

  I ran the rest of the way to Nancy’s room. I gave my best friend a gigundo hug!

  “Welcome home, welcome home, welcome home, home, home!” I sang. (I made that song up right on the spot.)

  “Thanks, Karen. I missed you so much. And I missed Hannie and Ms. Colman. I want you to tell me everything that happened at school while I was gone. I mean everything fun. No schoolwork or anything,” said Nancy.

“Okay,” I agreed. “And you have to tell me everything about the hospital. Did you get lots of presents? Were there any kids to play with?”

  “I will tell you everything, but first I have to show you something,” said Nancy. She lifted her pajama top up a little way.

  “Wow! That is neat!” I cried when I saw Nancy’s scar. I have some little round scars on my knees. But this one was longer and kind of squiggly.

  “I think we should give your scar a name,” I suggested. “Let’s call it Squiggles.”

  “Okay!” said Nancy. “After all, I helped give Hyacynthia her name.”

  I was so excited about seeing Nancy again, that I had almost forgotten about my doll. I looked around the room. At first I could not find her.

  Then I saw her in Nancy’s doll bed. She was tucked under a blanket. And she was wearing a bonnet I had never seen before.

  “Where did that come from?” I asked.

  “I made it,” said Nancy. “I am making an entire outfit for Hyacynthia.”

  Nancy showed me the things on her bed. A little shirt. An apron with a sash. A necklace with tiny beads.

  Was Nancy making all these things for my Hyacynthia? That would be really nice of her. But wait. Maybe Nancy’s mommy was not confused. Maybe she thought I really had given Hyacynthia to Nancy.

  Oh, no! Nancy thinks I gave her Hyacynthia to keep!

  Karen’s Problem

  Now what? I did not think I should explain my problem to Nancy. She was recovering from a serious operation. (Not everyone has a scar that is big enough to name.) I wanted to go home and think about this.

  “Oh, I almost forgot,” I said. “Ms. Colman asked me to give you the homework assignment. But she said to tell you that you do not have to do it if you’re tired.”

  “Oh, I am very, very tired,” said Nancy, falling back on her bed. “I am much too tired for homework.”

  I could tell Nancy was trying to be funny. I made myself laugh a little so she would not feel bad.

  “I think I better go,” I said. “If I stay too long, you really will get tired. And that would not be good at all.”

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