Blue Frocks and Pink Frocks

by Mrs. Molesworth

Rosalind and Pauline Wyvill were not twins, though at first sight nearly every one thought they were. Rosy was eleven and Paula only nine-and-a-half, but Paula was very tall for her age, and Rosy, if anything, small for eleven, so they were almost exactly the same height. And though Paula was much fairer than her sister, who had brown hair and rather dark grey eyes, still there was a good deal of likeness between them, and they were generally dressed exactly the same, which made them seem still more like twins.

Their mother was particular about their dressing the same, but now and then it was a little difficult to manage, for somehow Paula's frocks and hats and jackets generally got shabby long before Rosy's, and if an accident—such as tearing or burning or staining—was to happen, it was perfectly sure to come to Paula's clothes, and not to her sister's. In such cases, however, the misfortune had often to be endured, for their mother could not of course afford to get new things every time Paula's came to grief, though now and then she had to get an extra frock or jacket of some stronger or stouter material for the little girl to wear, if those the same as her sister's had been spoilt past repair.

It came to pass, one Christmas holiday, that the two children were invited to spend a week with an aunt by themselves. It was the first visit they had ever paid on their own account, and they were both pleased and excited about it.

This aunt was their father's elder sister. She was very kind, but not very much accustomed to young people, and in some of her ideas she was perhaps extra particular and what people now-a-days call rather "old-fashioned."

"You must show your aunt that I have taught you to be very neat and tidy," said their mother, a few days before the little girls were to go, "for she is rather strict about such things; it may be a little difficult for you, as you will have no maid of your own with you. Whatever you do, be sure always to be dressed exactly alike, that is one of the things that your aunt will notice the most."

"Which of us must fix what we are to wear?" said Paula; "mayn't we take it in turns?"

"I don't think there should be any difficulty about it," said their mother. "I should think it would be the nicest to consult together, without any fixed rule."

"Oh, I daresay it will be all right," said Rosy, thinking to herself that, as she was older than her sister, it would be only fair for her generally to have the first choice. "Do you think we shall have the same room, mamma?"

"No," their mother replied. "I was forgetting to tell you that you are to have two small separate rooms, as there will be other people staying in the house, and the larger rooms will be needed for them, so I have told Ann to pack up your things in two small boxes instead of together, but remember you have everything exactly alike, so that there will be no excuse for your not always being dressed the same. And, Paula, I do hope you will manage not to spoil anything during these few days."

"No, mamma, I'll try not," Paula replied, but she spoke rather absently, for she was not really attending to her mother's last words.

"What a lot of settling it will take, every time we dress," she was thinking to herself. "I hope we shan't quarrel about it." For it must be owned that though Rosy was a very kind elder sister, she was sometimes rather masterful, and that, though Paula would give in readily enough when spoken to gently, she could sometimes be very obstinate, if not taken exactly in the right way.

This is not a story, as you might expect, of Paula's misfortunes in the way of accidents to her clothes during their week's visit. More by luck than good management, probably, no very important disaster of the kind occured, and the first two or three days at their aunt's passed prosperously. Paula gave in to Rosy's wishes as to what frocks they were to wear, and indeed during the daytime there was not much chance of difference of opinion, as, being winter, they had only two each, Sunday and every-day ones. But their kind mother had given them some new and pretty evening dresses, prettier than they had ever had before, and the little girls were very much pleased with them. Unluckily, however, they had a disagreement of taste about them, Rosy preferring the pink ones and Paula the blue.

On the third evening of their visit, an hour or so before it was time to dress, they began talking about what they should put on, for coming into the drawing-room before dinner.

"It is the turn for our pink frocks to-night," said Rosy, in the very decided way that always rather roused Paula's spirit of contradiction. "And I'm very glad of it, for I like them ever so much the best."

"I don't," replied Paula, rather crossly, "I think the blues twenty times prettier, and we never fixed that we were to wear them in turns."

"Perhaps the blue suits you best," said Rosy, "but the pink suits me; I heard somebody say so the night we came, and to-night is rather particular, for you know it's uncle's birthday, and we are to go in to dessert and sit up an hour later. It is only fair that I should have what I like best, as I'm the eldest, besides it's the turn of the pinks."

"Nonsense about turns," said Paula, more crossly than before, "why shouldn't I look nice too, on uncle's birthday? I'll wear the blue."

"And I'll wear the pink," said Rosy, with the most determined air.

"You'll be punished for it if you do," said Paula, "just think how vexed aunt will be if we're different, particularly to-night, when it is going to be a regular dinner-party."

"I shan't be punished worse than you," was Rosy's reply, "and I shan't deserve it, and you will."

It was not often the little sisters' quarrels went so far as this. Paula felt herself getting so angry that she was afraid what she mightn't be tempted to say next.

She ran out of the room, banging the door behind her I am afraid, and rushed upstairs, where she burst into tears; for anger makes children cry quite as often as sorrow. But before she had been many minutes in her own room, her tears grew gentler, for she was a kind-hearted and loving little girl, and when she had bathed her face, to take away the redness from her eyes, she ran downstairs again to look for Rosy and make friends. But Rosy was not to be found anywhere—her aunt had called her into the conservatory to help her with some flowers she was arranging there, and after searching for her sister everywhere she could think of, Paula had to go upstairs to dress, as the first gong sounded.

"As soon as I have done my hair, I'll run to Rosy's room," she thought to herself, but then another idea struck her, she would give Rosy a pleasant surprise. "I'll put on the pink frock without telling her," she thought, "she will be pleased when she sees me with it on." And she made haste with her dressing so that Rosy might find her already in the drawing-room when she came down.

Thus it was that when Rosy, who was a little late of being ready, looked into Paula's room on her way downstairs, she found her sister gone. And what do you think happened? there was Paula smiling and pleased in the pink frock, as Rosy, also smiling and pleased with herself, walked in in the blue!

But Aunt Margaret, when she caught sight of them, looked neither smiling nor pleased.

"My dear children," she said, in a tone of vexation, "why are you not dressed alike? On your uncle's birthday too."

The little girls' faces fell.

"Oh, auntie," said Rosy, "it's all my fault, but I meant to please Paula, by putting on the blue."

"And I meant to please Rosy," said Paula, "by wearing the pink."

And then the whole story was explained to their aunt, who could not help smiling at the odd result of their wish to make up their quarrel.

"Change your frocks," she said, "while we're at dinner, so that you may be the same at dessert, that will put it all right."

She made rather a mistake, for of course only one frock needed to be changed; which it was I cannot tell you. I only know that they came into dessert and took their place one on each side of their uncle, dressed alike—in blue or pink!