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The Wishing Carpet

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
ONCE, when Glen Darrow was six years old, she put a hand on her mother’s thin knee and halted the reading of a fairy tale. “Mummie,” she whispered, “is that one?” She was pointing at a small and very beautiful Oriental rug which seemed singularly out of place in the ugly and characterless sitting room. Color, design, and texture were exquisite. A fanciful person, contrasting it with the strident carpet, the atrocious vases and pictures, the glistening golden oak furniture, might have thought it was like a nobleman, briefly taking refuge in the mean hut of a peasant. “Mummie, dear!” The child was insistent. “Is that a Wishing Carpet?” Her mother did not answer immediately. Her blue gaze, with its habitual expression of brooding pathos, rested on the rug, and she sighed mistily before she spoke, which was her vaguely irritating custom. She had the effect of pleading with the world to be sorry for her. This seemed, to busy and hard-headed people, a waste of time—she was so patently and amply sorry for herself. “Yes, darling,” she replied at length, gently and tremulously, “it is a Wishing Carpet in a way, because, for nine long years I’ve been looking at it and wishing for things I knew I could never have!” “Well, maybe,” Glen Darrow suggested hopefully, “you didn’t stand right on it with your eyes shut tight and your left hand on your heart, like the old witch said?” Then, as Mrs. Darrow shook her head—“Well, when I wish I’ll wish the right way!” She patted her mother’s knee again, consolingly, this time. “And I won’t wish till I have to, and then I’ll wish for something I think is going to happen anyway!” That was her father in her, the woman reflected rather peevishly. That was Glenwood Darrow all over. No striving after higher things, no yearning.... Well, doubtless she would be better off. The fine-fibered, over-sensitive people of the world were never really happy, as no one knew better than herself.... Effie Darrow’s soft eyes filled and her soft chin quivered. The doctor had married her eyes without noticing her chin. She had played the small, sobbing organ in the church he boredly attended while he earned a summer vacation by caring for a godly and epileptic youth. The top of the hymn book had cut her face in two. Glenwood Darrow saw only a white brow under fine, fair hair, a mild gaze, blue and beautiful, celestially sweet. The chin and the ineffectual mouth with its permanent sag at the corners were not discovered until too late. Young Glen’s eyes were like her mother’s in size and coloring, but there was a drastic difference in their expression: they were not in the least wistful or appealing. Features, however, were not going to matter very much with Glen Darrow, because of the hair which framed her face in a veritable flame of shimmering, blazing red, bequeathed by some ancestor who was not even a legend on either side of the house.