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       Karen's Doll, p.3

           Ann M. Martin
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  “All right,” said Nancy. “Thanks for coming over.”

  When I got to the door, Nancy was already stringing beads on Hyacynthia’s new necklace. I was in big trouble! I ran downstairs and straight back to the little house.

  “Is Nancy home from the hospital?” Mommy asked when I came in.

  “Yes, Mommy,” I answered.

  “How is she?” Mommy asked.

  “Good,” I said.

  I did not want to talk much. I needed to go to my room to think. Maybe Goosie would have an idea.

  “Oh, Goosie. How can I tell Nancy that Hyacynthia was just a loaner?” I asked.

  I held Goosie up to my ear. No answer.

  “Some help you are. In less than two weeks Mommy expects me to bring Hyacynthia back from the big house. How am I going to solve this problem in less than two weeks? What am I going to do?”

  Then I realized that things could get even worse. What if Mrs. Dawes talks to Mommy? I thought. Maybe she’ll say something about how generous I am. And what if Mommy talks to Daddy? Maybe she will ask him how Hyacynthia is, and he will tell her Hyacynthia is not there!

  Even Goosie looked worried. I had to think of a plan.

  I could go to Nancy’s house again the next day. I could steal Hyacynthia back when she was not looking. (I wondered how long they keep dollnappers in jail?) Of course, I would have to replace the real doll with an imposter. But how could I? Seth said it would be very difficult to replace Hyacynthia. I wondered how much plane tickets to England cost.

  Oh, boy. All I had done was tell one little lie so Mommy would not be upset. Now I would have to fly all the way to London!

  The Secret

  “You have been very quiet lately, Karen. Is anything wrong?” asked Seth. It was Tuesday morning. We were having breakfast.

  Yes, I thought. Something is wrong. But I cannot tell you what it is.

  “I guess I miss Hyacynthia,” I said. (At least I was not lying again. I really did miss her.)

  “Well, you will see her soon,” said Mommy.

  Keeping such a big secret was not easy. Every time I opened my mouth, I was afraid I would give it away. I was afraid I would say, “Please pass the Hyacynthia,” instead of, “Please pass the hamburger.” Or I might say, “I am going next door to play with my doll,” instead of, “I am going next door to play with my friend.”

  So I tried to talk as little as possible. That was gigundoly hard for me. You probably noticed I like to talk a lot. But so far, so good. Mommy and Seth were not asking many questions.

  When I got to school, guess who was there. Nancy! It had been a whole week since she had come home from the hospital.

  Nancy was a big star. Everyone wanted to hear about her operation. A group of kids was crowded around her in the yard.

  “I cannot show you my scar, but it is right here,” Nancy was saying. She pointed to the spot. (I noticed she did not tell anyone we named her scar Squiggles. We would tell Hannie about that later.)

  “Thank you, everyone, for all the nice things you wrote on my get well card. That was a neat present,” said Nancy. “I got another present from Karen. She gave me her English baby doll, Hyacynthia, to help me feel better.”

  “Wow!” said Ricky. “What a great friend you are.”

  The kids turned to look at me. Now Nancy and I were both stars!

  Then Hannie ran into the yard. Hannie had not seen Nancy since before she went into the hospital.

  “Welcome back! I missed you!” said Hannie. She gave Nancy a big hug.

  The Three Musketeers were together again. Hurray!

  Soon a new group of kids was gathered around Nancy. Nancy was telling the story over again. She made sure to tell them how I gave her Hyacynthia to keep her company.

  “Really, Karen?” said Hannie. “You gave Hyacynthia to Nancy? That is so great.”

  Even though I was a big star — and I love being a star — I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. I was glad when the bell rang and we had to go inside.

  On the way in, I heard Pamela Harding say to Leslie, “I cannot believe Karen gave her doll away. I did not know she was so generous.”

  Well, I was not so generous. I had not really given Nancy my doll. I only loaned it to her. But that was nice, too, wasn’t it?

  Things were getting out of hand. I was so confused. Maybe I should just let Nancy keep Hyacynthia, I thought. At least then I really would be nice. Nancy loves Hyacynthia. She would take good care of her. And I could visit whenever I wanted.

  There was just one problem. Mommy. She would be very unhappy.

  The Second Lie

  “Come on, Karen! Andrew! It’s time to go to Daddy’s,” called Mommy.

  Most of the time, I love going to Daddy’s. Something is always happening there. That is because of all the people — and animals, too.

  But one thing would not be happening that weekend: I would not be finding Hyacynthia and bringing her home. That was all Mommy could talk about on the way to Daddy’s. Andrew was no help, either.

  “Now, remember, Karen you must bring Hyacynthia back with you on Sunday,” said Mommy.

  “Okay,” I promised, even though I knew I could not.

  “I miss Fire Hydracynthia,” said Andrew. This time he was laughing and holding his sides.

  “Very funny,” I said.

  “You know something,” admitted Mommy. “I miss Hyacynthia, too.”

  Oh, brother! It was not bad enough that my doll was expensive and could not be replaced. Now on top of everything, Mommy missed her!

  At the big house, I said hi to everyone, then went to my room. I looked around. I was hoping that somehow, by magic, Hyacynthia would be there. She wasn’t.

  I fed Crystal Light the Second. If I cannot take care of my doll, I though, at least I can take care of my fish.

  After dinner, I sat down to watch TV. I thought and old Mister Ed rerun might cheer me up. (Mister Ed is a talking horse. He is always getting in trouble. Sort of like me.)

  I sat in front of the TV for a long time. I did not even notice that David Michael had sat down next to me.

  “Hey, Professor!” he said. (He calls me that because I wear glasses.) “I changed the channel about an hour ago and you didn’t say anything!”

  “You didn’t say anything about our costumes, either,” said Andrew. Emily was standing next to him.

  “What costumes?” I asked. “Those are your pajamas.”

  “We were wearing the costumes before. We were creepy creatures, with wiggly tin foil things on our heads.”

  “I am sure they were very nice costumes,” I said. It was time for me to go to bed.

  Kristy came in to read with me. We were reading a book of Aesop’s fables. They are little stories that say something important when you get to the end. I wished there was a fable about giving dolls away.

  “Do you want me to read ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’?” asked Kristy.

  “Okay,” I agreed. That was a good one.

  I could hear Kristy’s voice. But I could not concentrate on what she was saying.

  “… and so Hare, the fastest of all, won the race just like he said he would. Right, Karen?”

  “Right,” I said.

  “Karen, you know Hare doesn’t win the race. Tortoise does. We have read this about a zillion times.”

  “Sorry, Kristy. I guess I am sleepy,” I said.

  “Well, here is a butterfly kiss even if you did not hear a word I read,” said Kristy.

  “Thanks. Good night,” I said.

  Saturday and Sunday were no better. All I could think about was the trouble I was in.

  Honk! Honk! Late Sunday, Seth came to pick up Andrew and me. When we walked in the door of the little house, guess what Mommy asked me.

  “Karen, where is Hyacynthia? Did you forget her again?”

  “Hey!” said Andrew. “I did not see that doll all weekend.”

  Suddenly everyone was looking at me. Mommy. Seth. Andrew. I h
ad to say something.

  “I lost Hyacynthia,” I lied.

  The Hate Letter

  “Karen, how could you? How could you lose the one thing you were supposed to be extra careful with?” said Mommy.

  “I lost her two weeks ago. But I was scared to tell you. So I said I forgot her,” I admitted.

  “So not only did you lose your doll,” said Seth, “you lied to us, too.”

  Twice, I thought. Because I did not forget her and I did not lose her. I had given her to Nancy. But I was not going to tell anyone that now.

  “Karen, please go to your room and think over what you have done,” said Mommy.

  As soon as I got there, I closed the door and started crying. I picked up Goosie and held him. (Goosie is a big help when I am upset.)

  “How did everything get so complicated, Goosie? All I did was try to be nice. I sent my big sister to visit my sick friend. And I loaned my friend my doll. That’s all.”

  If only I could have gone to the hospital myself. This never would have happened. Then I thought of something. This mess was not my fault. It was Kristy’s.

  If Kristy had not let Nancy think I was giving her my doll, I would not be in trouble. Kristy should have told Nancy it was just a loan. (Of course, I had not said those exact words to Kristy. But she should have known anyway.)

  I put Goosie down and picked up some paper and a pencil. This called for a letter:

  I read my letter over. Perfect, I thought. Except for one thing. I erased “Dear.”

  I put the letter in an envelope. I wrote the big house address on the front and stuck on a stamp. On the back I drew a skull and crossbones. If I was ever allowed out of my room again, I was going to mail the letter.

  I do not think I had ever been so mad at my big sister before.

  Help From Ms. Colman

  By the time I got to school on Monday, I knew I needed some help. Grown-up help. I did not want to ask anyone at the big house. Or at the little house, either. That would get too complicated.

  Ms. Colman was about to make the morning announcements. Hm, I thought. Ms. Colman. She’s nice. And smart. I decided that instead of going out to play at recess, I would talk to her about my problem.

  “Pssst. Karen!” It was Nancy calling from the back row. She wanted me to wave hi. I did not really feel like it. But I waved anyway.

  The morning felt like it was a week long. Finally, recess came. When everyone was gone, I went to Ms. Colman’s desk.

  “May I talk to you about something important?” I asked.

  “Of course you may, Karen,” answered Ms. Colman.

  I took a deep breath and told her the whole story. Fortunately, I did not have to start from the very, very beginning. Ms. Colman already knew Hyacynthia from Show and Share. She knew she was a special doll. She knew that Grandma and Grandpa Packett had brought her all the way from England. And she knew that Nancy had helped name her.

  I started from the part where Mommy and Seth had told me I must be careful with my doll and not lose her or leave her anywhere.

  I told her how I could not go to visit Nancy at the hospital because I was too young. So I had asked Kristy to go instead. And I told her how I had sent Hyacynthia with her as a loan to keep Nancy company at the hospital.

  “That was very nice of you, Karen,” said Ms. Colman.

  “But then Mommy got mad because I came home from the big house without Hyacynthia. And I was scared to tell the truth, so I lied. I told Mommy I just forgot Hyacynthia.”

  “Go on,” said Ms. Colman.

  “Well, then everything got all mixed up. See, Kristy let Nancy think I was giving her Hyacynthia. When I went to Nancy’s house, I saw Hyacynthia in her doll bed. Nancy was making little outfits for her and thanking me for the wonderful present.”

  Finally, I told Ms. Colman how I lied again and told Mommy and Seth I had lost Hyacynthia.

  “Now Mommy and Seth are mad at me. And I am mad at Kristy and Nancy. And I do not have my doll. And it is a whole big mess!” I said.

  I could tell Ms. Colman was thinking about my problem. After awhile she said, “It seems to me there is just one thing to do. You should talk with Nancy.”

  “I can’t do that,” I said.

  “Why not?” asked Ms. Colman. “You and Nancy are very close friends.”

  “But I do not want to hurt her feelings,” I explained. “She thinks I gave her the doll. If it turns out it was only a loan, she might feel bad.”

  “Karen, think about talking to Nancy. It might be the only way to clear things up,” said Ms. Colman.

  “Thanks,” I said. “I promise I will think about it.”

  I thought about it for the rest of Monday. I thought about it on Tuesday. I thought about it all day Wednesday.

  Then at dinner on Wednesday, I asked Mommy if I could bring my charm bracelet to school for Show and Share.

  “No, I’m sorry, Karen,” Mommy replied. “Not until you have shown me you can be more responsible. I cannot let you take anything valuable out of the house.”

  That did it. I was finished thinking. I was going to follow Ms. Colman’s advice.

  Tomorrow, I will talk to Nancy, I thought.

  Stupid Kristy

  “Okay, dollnapper, hand over Hyacynthia.” No. I could not say that.

  How about, “Look, pal, the jig is up.” (I do not know what a jig is, but I heard someone say that in a movie once.) Anyway, that would not work, either.

  It was Thursday afternoon. I was standing in front of my mirror. I was trying to figure out what to say to Nancy. Finally I decided just to go to her house. After all, I had never had trouble talking to Nancy before.

  I told Mommy where I was going and marched over to the Daweses’. I marched straight up to Nancy’s room. I sat down on her bed.

  “Hi,” I said.

  “Hi,” said Nancy. “You know, you have been acting a little strange lately. Is anything wrong?”

  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Hyacynthia sitting in the doll bed. She was wearing her new outfit. She was even wearing the beaded necklace. I decided I better start talking. And I did. I told Nancy the whole story, starting from the part where I gave Kristy my baby doll to take to the hospital.

  “See, Kristy was on her way to visit you and she asked if there was anything I wanted to give you. I thought you would like a visit from Hyacynthia. So I gave her Hyacynthia. But she was only a loan. It was stupid Kristy who let you think I was giving you my doll for keeps!” I said.

  There. I had told Nancy the whole story. I was ready for her to be mad that the doll was only on loan. But guess what. That was not what she was mad about.

  “It’s not Kristy’s fault,” cried Nancy. “She was nice to me in the hospital.”

  “She may have been nice, but she was stupid. And her stupid mistake got me into a lot of trouble,” I said.

  “You’re the one who is stupid!” said Nancy.

  “I am not!”

  “You are, too! And I do not need your stupid old doll. Here, take her.”

  I grabbed Hyacynthia. I did not want to stop to take off the dumb clothes Nancy had made for her.

  “I will send you the clothes,” I said.

  “Oh, who cares? Just keep them.” Nancy turned her back on me.

  “I am not talking to you anymore. You and Hannie can be the two Musketeers, for all I care,” I said.

  I marched out of Nancy’s room in a huff and straight back to the little house.

  Mommy and Andrew were on the couch in the living room, reading together. I tossed Hyacynthia down next to them.

  “Here. I found her,” I said angrily.

  Then I marched upstairs.

  Telling the Truth

  I was back in my room. It seemed like I was spending half my life there.

  “I hope you are not mad at me, Goosie,” I said. “Everyone else is.”

  I held Goosie up. He said he was not mad at me. Good. I started to feel better.

  I heard
the door downstairs open and close. That meant Seth was home. In a little while there was a knock at my door.

  “May we come in?” Mommy asked.

  “All right,” I replied.

  Mommy and Seth came in with Hyacynthia. They put her on the bed and sat down next to me. One on each side.

  “It’s time for us to have a talk, Karen. A truthful talk,” said Seth.

  “We would like to know what has been going on with you. We would like to know where Hyacynthia came from all of a sudden. And we would like to know why you are so angry,” said Mommy. (She sounded pretty angry herself.)

  For the third time that week, I took a deep breath and got ready to tell the story. The truth could not possibly make anything worse now, I thought. I tried my best. I tried to be nice to Nancy. Now she’s mad at me. I tried to keep Mommy from getting angry. But I made her angry anyway.

  This time I started the story from when I got the bright idea to send Kristy to the hospital in my place. I said how I had sent Hyacynthia along to keep Nancy company — until she came home from the hospital.

  “Kristy let Nancy think I was giving her my doll for keeps. Then I did not want to take Hyacynthia back because I did not want to hurt Nancy’s feelings,” I said.

  “Oh, Karen, honey,” said Mommy when I was finished. “I can see now how difficult this has been. And we were being awfully tough on you. I’m sorry. I really am.”

  “We’re both sorry,” said Seth. “But why didn’t you just tell us the truth to begin with?”

  “I thought you wouldn’t like it,” I replied.

  “The truth is always better,” said Mommy.

  “I don’t think so,” I said. “I just went over to Nancy’s house and told her the truth. And now we are not even talking.”

  “Don’t worry. You two will patch things up. You always do,” said Mommy.

  That was the end of the talk. No one said anything about how I should take care of my doll in the future. No one said anything more about telling the truth, or about being responsible.

  Mommy just gave me a hug. Then Seth did, too. And he gave Hyacynthia a pat on the head.

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