The Boy and Little Great Lady
SHE was always called the “little great lady, “ for she lived in a grand house, and was very rich. He was a strange boy; the little great lady never knew whence he came, or whither he went. She only saw him when the snow lay deep upon the ground. Then in the early morning he swept a pathway to the stable in which she had once kept a white rabbit. When it was quite finished, she came down the steps in her white dress and little thin shoes, with bows on them, and walked slowly along the pathway.
It was always swept so dry she might have worn paper shoes without getting them wet. At the far end he always stood waiting till she came, and smiled and said, “Thank you, little boy, “ and passed on. Then he was no more seen till the next snowy morning, when again he swept the pathway ; and again the little great lady came down the steps in her dainty shoes, and went on her way to the stable. But at last, one morning when the snow lay white and thick, and she came down the steps as usual, there was no pathway.
The little boy stood leaning on a spade, his feet buried deep in the snow. “Where is your broom? and where is the pathway to the rabbit house? “she asked. “The rabbit is dead, and the broom is worn out, “ he answered; “ and I am tired of making pathways that lead to empty houses. “ “But why have you done it so long? “ she asked. “You have bows on your shoes, “ he said; “ and they are so thin you could not walk over the snow in them why, you would catch your death of cold, “ he added, scornfully. “What would you do if I wore boots? “ “I should go and learn how to build ships, or paint pictures, or write books. But I should not think of you so much, “ he said. The little great lady answered eagerly, “Go and learn how to do all those things; I will wait till you come back and tell me what you have done, “ and she turned and went into the house. “Good-bye, “ the boy said, as he stood watching for a moment the closed door; “ dear little great lady, good-bye. “ And he went along the unmade pathway beyond the empty rabbit house.