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Stories Just For Children
by Donna Flood
Learning to Work

      A light,  rain fell upon the meadow. The look and feel of it? Why, it was as if  someone had thrown a white, gauze fabric down from the sky. But it was more delicate and fine than that. Greens that were a chartreuse, yellowish-tint  in the bright sunlight were now,  a soft blue-green.

     Miranda lounged about on the cushions of the long window seat which was flanked by at least eight windows. It was a perfect place to enjoy the scene where misty,  tall grass was growing.  She really wasn't that interested in the view, but the child knew if she was quiet and reserved with her behavior she might avoid Grandmother's attention.

     “Come on, now!”  Miranda didn't want to hear her grandmother call, especially, if for some reason she was making a nuisance of herself. “Come on, Miranda. Put on your cleaning apron and pick up that dust cloth out of the pantry,” Grandmother was quick and alert to her granddaughter's good up bringing.

     “Oh yes, this is the best place to be,” Miranda now felt.  It was exactly the correct location and she had not complained about being bored while in her grandmother's company. It was something the girl had already learned. She knew it was wiser to be as quiet as a mouse.

      Dusting the furniture with a smelly, cedar-oiled rag wasn't exactly what she considered fun even though her tiny fingers were perfect for getting into the crevices of the heavy, carved furniture. Roses cut into the wood on the backs of the chairs created elegance for some but for her it was only a pain and she especially hated this chore. Her grandmother didn't seem to be a bit worried that she was only five years old, either.

    “Learn to make yourself useful,” Gramma was fond of saying or she might comment, “pretty is as pretty does.”

     Miranda didn't really know what that meant. Her mother and cousin were pretty but the way Gramma talked there must be something wrong with that. She wondered what it was. As she thought about this she wanted to question someone to ask if she was  beautiful but decided she probably wasn't, else Gramma wouldn't be speaking about it in such an easy way. The windows made a perfect mirror with the dark day behind them. She peered at her own image in the pane of glass.

     “Hmmm, don't look pretty to me,” Miranda muttered. Her hair was scraggly and hard to control so,  usually, tight braids helped to hold it in place. Seemed like all those around her, except Grandmother, had beautiful dark skin. The little girl believed her face, on the other hand, was pale and uninteresting.

      Miranda held in her lap the small piece of fabric her grandmother had taught the girl to hem. If she kept partial attention to this effort, usually,  it was enough to make her look busy and this is what she did.

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