Where Sarah Jane's Doll Went
by Mary E. Wilkins
In the first place, Sarah Jane had no right to
take the doll to school, but the temptation was
too much for her. The doll was new—it was,
in fact, only one day old—and such a doll! Rag,
of course—Sarah Jane had heard only vague rumors
of other kinds—but no more like the ordinary
rag doll than a fairy princess is like a dairy-maid.
The minute that Sarah Jane saw it she
knew at once that there never had been such a
doll. It was small—not more than seven or
eight inches tall—not by any means the usual
big, sprawling, moon-faced rag baby with its
arms standing out at right angles with its body.
It was tiny and genteel in figure, slim-waisted,
and straight-backed. It was made of, not common
cotton cloth, but linen—real glossy white
linen—which Sarah Jane's mother, and consequently
the doll's grandmother, had spun and
wove. Its face was colored after a fashion
which was real high art to Sarah Jane. The
little cheeks and mouth were sparingly flushed
with cranberry juice, and the eyes beamed blue
with indigo. The nose was delicately traced
with a quill dipped in its grandfather's ink-stand,
and though not quite as natural as the rest of
the features, showed fine effort. Its little wig
was made from the fine ravellings of Serena's
brown silk stockings.
Serena was Sarah Jane's married sister, who
lived in the next house across the broad green
yard, and she had made this wonderful doll.
She brought it over one evening just before
Sarah Jane went to bed. "There," said she, "if
you'll be a real good girl I'll give you this."
"Oh!" cried Sarah Jane, and she could say no
Serena, who was only a girl herself, dandled
the doll impressively before her bewildered eyes.
It was dressed in a charming frock made from a
bit of Serena's best French calico. The frock
was of a pale lilac color with roses sprinkled
over it, and was cut with a low neck and short
"Now, Sarah Jane," said Serena, admonishingly,
"there's one thing I want to tell you: you
mustn't carry this doll to school. If you do,
you'll lose it; and if you do, you won't get another
very soon. It was a good deal of work to
make it. Now you mind what I say."
"Yes, ma'am," said Sarah Jane. It was not
her habit to say ma'am to her sister Serena, if
she was twelve years older than she; but she
did now, and reached out impatiently for the
"Well, you remember," said Serena. "If you
take it to school and lose it, it'll be the last doll
And Sarah Jane said, "Yes, ma'am," again.
She had to go to bed directly, but she took
the new doll with her; that was not forbidden,
much to her relief. And before she went to
sleep she had named her with a most flowery
name, nothing less than Lily Rosalie Violet May.
It took her a long time to decide upon it, but
she was finally quite satisfied, and went to sleep
hugging Lily Rosalie, and dreamed about her
next day's spelling lesson—that she failed and
went to the foot of the class.
It was singular, but for once a dream of Sarah
Jane's came true. She actually did miss in her
spelling lesson the next day; and although she
did not go quite to the foot of the class, she went
very near to it. But if Sarah Jane was not able
to spell scissors correctly, she could have spelled
with great success Lily Rosalie Violet May. All
the evening she had been printing it over and
over on a fly-leaf of her spelling-book. She
could feel no interest in scissors, which had no
connection, except a past one, with her beloved
Poor Sarah Jane lived such a long way from
school that she had to carry her dinner with
her, so there was a whole day's separation, when
she had only possessed Lily Rosalie for a matter
of twelve hours. It was hard.
She told some of her particular cronies about
her, and described her charms with enthusiasm,
but it was not quite equal to displaying her in
The little girls promised to come over and see
the new doll just as soon as their mothers would
let them, and one, Ruth Gurney, who was Sarah
Jane's especial friend, said she would go home
with her that very night—she didn't believe her
mother would care—but they were going to have
company at tea, and she was afraid if she were
late, and had to sit at the second table, that she
wouldn't get any currant tarts.
Sarah Jane did not urge her; she had a shy
little pride of her own; but she felt deeply hurt
that Ruth could prefer currant tarts to a sight
of Lily Rosalie.
She was rather apt to loiter on her way home.
There was much temptation to at this time of
the year, when the meadows on either side of
the road were so brimful of grass and flowers,
when the air was so sweet, and so many birds
were singing. There was a brook on the way,
and occasionally Sarah Jane used to stop and
have a little secret wade. It was one of those
pleasures which, although not actually prohibited,
was doubtful. Sarah Jane had at times got
the hem of her little blue calico gown draggled,
and met with a reprimand at home.
But to-night neither nodding way-side flowers
nor softly rippling brook had any attraction for
her. Straight home, her little starched white
sun-bonnet pointing ahead unswervingly, her
small pattering feet never turning aside from
the narrow beaten track between the way-side
grasses, she went to Lily Rosalie Violet May.
She found her just as beautiful as when she
left her. That long day of absence, filled in with
her extravagant childish fancy, had not caused
her charms to lessen in the least.
Sarah Jane ran straight to the linen chest, in
whose till she had hidden for safety the precious
doll, and there she lay, her indigo blue eyes staring
up, smiling at her with the sweet cranberry-colored
smile which Serena had fixed on her
face. Sarah Jane caught her up in rapture.
Her mother told Serena that night that she
didn't know when she'd seen the child so tickled
with anything as she was with that doll.
"She didn't carry it to the school, did she?"
"No. I guess she won't want to, as long as
you told her not to," replied her mother.
Sarah Jane had been always an obedient little
girl; but—she had never before had Lily Rosalie
Violet May. Her mother did not consider
Sarah Jane did not have a pocket made in her
dress; it was not then the fashion. Instead, she
wore a very large-sized one, made of stout cotton,
tied around her waist by a string under her
dress skirt. The next day, when Sarah Jane
went to school, she carried in this pocket her
new doll. She was quite late this morning, so
there was no time to display it before school
Once, when the high arithmetic class was out
on the floor, she pulled it slyly out of her pocket,
held it under her desk, and poked Ruth Gurney,
who sat in the next seat.
"Oh!" gasped Ruth, almost aloud. The doll
seemed to fascinate everybody. "Let me take
it," motioned Ruth; but Sarah Jane shook a
wise head, and slid Lily Rosalie back in her
pocket. She was not going to run the risk of
having her confiscated by the teacher. But
when recess came Sarah Jane was soon the
proud little centre of an admiring group.
"Sarah Jane's got the handsomest new doll,"
one whispered to another, and they all crowded
around. Even some of the "big girls" came,
and two or three of the big boys. Sarah Jane
was one of the smallest girls in school, and sat in
the very front seat. Now she felt like a big girl
herself. This wonderful doll raised her at once
to a position of importance. There she stood in
the corner by the window, and proudly held it.
She wore a blue cotton dress cut after the fashion
of Lily Rosalie's, with a low neck and short
sleeves, displaying her dimpled childish neck and
arms. Her round cheeks were flushed with a
softer pink than the doll's, and her honest brown
eyes were full of delight.
One and another of the girls begged for the
privilege of taking the doll a moment for a closer
scrutiny, and Sarah Jane would grant it, and
then watch them with thinly veiled anxiety.
Suppose their fingers shouldn't be quite clean,
and there should be a spot on Lily Rosalie's
beautiful white linen skin! One of the girls
rubbed her cheeks to see if the red would come
off, and Sarah Jane wriggled.
Joe West was one of the big boys who had
joined the group. Years after, he was Joseph
B. West, an eminent city lawyer. Years after
that, he was Judge West of the Superior Court.
Now he was simply Joe West, a tall, lanky boy
with a long rosy face and a high forehead. His
arms came too far through his jacket sleeves,
and showed his wrists, which looked unnaturally
knobby and bony. He went barefoot all summer
long, and was much given to chewing sassafras.
He offered a piece to Sarah Jane now, extracting
it with gravity from a mass of chalk, top
strings, buttons, nails, and other wealth with
which his pocket was filled.
Sarah Jane accepted it with a modest little
blush, and plumped it into her rosy mouth.
Then Joe West followed up his advantage.
"Say, Sarah Jane," said he, "lemme take her a
She eyed him doubtfully. Somehow she mistrusted
him. Joe West had rather the reputation
of being a wag and a sore tease.
"She's just the prettiest doll I ever saw," Joe
went on. "Lemme take her just a minute,
Sarah Jane; now do."
"He's just stuffing you, Sarah Jane; don't you
let him touch it," spoke out one of the big girls.
"Stuffing" was a very expressive word in the
language of the school. Sarah Jane shook her
head with a timid little smile, and hugged Lily
"Now do, Sarah Jane. I wouldn't be stingy.
Haven't I just given you some sassafras?"
That softened her a little. The spicy twang
of the sassafras was yet on her tongue. "I'm
afraid you won't give her back to me," murmured
"Yes, I will, honest. Now do, Sarah Jane."
It was against her better judgment; the big
girl again raised her warning voice; but Joe
West adroitly administered a little more flattery,
and followed it up with entreaty, and Sarah
Jane, yielding, finally put her precious little white
linen baby into his big grimy, out-reaching hands.
"Oh, the pretty little sing!" said Joe West
then, in an absurdly soft voice, and dandled it up
and down. "What's its name, Sarah Jane?"
And Sarah Jane in her honesty and simplicity
repeated that flowery name.
"Lily Rosalie Violet May," said Joe, after her,
softly. And everybody giggled.
A pink color spread all over Sarah Jane's face
and dimpled neck; tears sprang to her eyes. She
felt as if they were poking fun at something sacred;
her honest childish confidence was betrayed.
"Give her back to me, Joe West!" she
But Joe only dandled it out of her reach, and
then the bell rang. The children trooped back
into the school-room, and Joe quietly slipped the
doll into his pocket and marched gravely to his
Every time when Sarah Jane gazed around at
him he was studying his geography with the
most tireless industry. She could hardly wait
for school to be done; when it was, she tried to
get to Joe, but he was too quick for her. He had
started with his long stride down the road before
she could get to the door. She called after him,
but he appeared to have suddenly grown deaf.
The other girls condoled with her, all but the
big girl who had given the warning. "You'd
ought to have listened to me," said she, severely,
as she tied on her sun-bonnet in the entry. "I
told you how it would be, letting a boy have
hold of it."
Sarah Jane was not much comforted. She
crept forlornly along towards home. Joe West's
house was on the way. There was a field south
of it. As she came to this field she saw Joe out
there with the bossy. This bossy, which was
tethered to an old apple-tree, was cream-colored,
with a white star on her forehead and a neck
and head like a deer. She stood knee-deep in
the daisies and clover, and looked like a regular
picture-calf. If Sarah Jane had not been so
much occupied with her own troubles, she would
have stopped to gaze with pleasure at the pretty
Joe stood at her head and appeared to be teasing
her. She twitched away from him, and
lunged at him playfully with her budding horns.
"Joe! Joe!" called quaking little Sarah Jane.
Joe West gave one glance at her; his face
flushed a burning red; then he left the bossy
and went with long strides across the fields towards
his home. The poor girl followed him.
"Joe! Joe!" called the little despairing voice,
but he never turned his head.
Sarah Jane got past his house; then she sat
down beside the road and wept. She did not
know how Joe West, remorseful and penitent,
was peeping at her from his window. She did
not know of the tragedy which had just been
enacted over there in the clover-field. The
bossy calf, who was hungry for all strange articles
of food, had poked her inquiring nose into
Joe West's jacket pocket, whence a bit of French
calico emerged, had caught hold of it, and, in
short, had then and there eaten up Lily Rosalie
Violet May. Joe had made an attempt to pull
her by her silken wig out of that greedy mouth,
but the bossy calmly chewed on.
It was just as well that Sarah Jane did not
know it at the time. She had enough to bear—her
own distress over the loss of the doll, and the
reproaches of Serena and her mother. They
agreed that the loss of the doll served her right
for her disobedience, and that nothing should be
said to Joe West. They also thought the affair
too trivial to fuss over. Lily Rosalie even in her
designer's eyes was not what she was to Sarah
"If you'd minded me you wouldn't have lost
it," said Serena. "I am not going to make you
Sarah Jane hung her head meekly. But in
the course of three months she had another doll
in a very unexpected and curious way.
One evening there was a knock on the side
door, and when it was opened there was no one
there, but on the step lay a big package directed
to Sarah Jane. It contained a real bought doll,
with a china head and a cloth body, who was
gorgeously and airily attired in pink tarlatan
with silver spangles. The memory of Lily Rosalie
There was great wonder and speculation. Nobody
dreamed how poor Joe West had driven
cows from pasture, and milked, and chopped
wood, out of school-hours, and taken every cent
he had earned and bought this doll to atone for
the theft of Lily Rosalie Violet May.
Sarah Jane's mother declared that she should
not carry this doll, no matter whence it came, to
school, and she never did but once—that was on
her birthday, and she teased so hard, and promised
not to let any one take her, that her mother
At recess Sarah Jane was again the centre of
attraction. She turned that wonderful pink tarlatan
lady round and round before the admiring
eyes; but when Joe West, meek and mildly conciliatory,
approached the circle, she clutched her
tightly and turned her back on him.
"I'm not going to have Joe West steal another
doll," said she. And Joe colored and retreated.
Years afterwards, when Joe was practising law
in the city, and came home for a visit, and Sarah
Jane was so grown-up that she wore a white
muslin hat with rosebuds, and a black silk mantilla,
to church, she knew the whole story, and
they had a laugh over it.