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Agnes Taylor Ketchum

The Nest of Gold

P ERCY DALE was a dear pink-and-white little boy, with a tangle of golden ringlets so long and silky that strangers often stopped him on the street to admire them. He wouldn't have cared, only they sometimes stroked his head and called him a "sweet little girl." Now Percy loved little girls; but to be called a girl himself was not at all to his liking. It always sent him running to his mamma to beg her to cut off the dreadful curls that made people say he was "a little girl boy."

"Oh, no, no, darling, mamma can't shear her pet lamb," she would answer with a kiss; "but by-and-by we'll ask Miss Olive to do it."

"By-and-by" was slow in coming, and Percy's fourth birthday found him with curls longer and lovelier than ever. That morning, as he stood by the gate, an old lady, passing, said to him, smilingly: "Won't you sell me your beautiful, bright curls, little Miss? My little grand-daughter hasn't any."

"Little Miss, indeed!" The words nearly broke Percy's heart. He dragged his apron up over the hated ringlets and held it close till the lady had gone. Then he hopped down from the gate, his eyes shining with a happy thought. He would stop people from calling him names! He would run across the street all by himself and ask Miss Olive to cut his hair off so short that everybody'd know he wasn't a girl! As it happened, his mamma had lately said to Miss Olive that one of these days his curls must be clipped; so when the little fellow told his errand, Miss Olive at once pinned a towel about his neck, and snip, snip went her big shears through his wavy mane. She put the longest curls in a paper box for Percy to carry home; and not being a very tidy woman she threw the rest of them out of the back window into the yard. These were spied by two yellow birds, about to set up housekeeping, and carried off, tress by tress, to the lilac-tree in the garden. There the birds wove them into the daintiest golden nest that ever was seen. In this they reared a thriving little family; and when the cold winds came, and they all flitted away to the sunny South, Miss Olive brought the empty nest to Percy's mamma, who has kept it to this day.