In order to understand the excitement that prevailed at the wigwam when it was announced that the Little Colonel was on her way toward it, one would ﬁrst have to understand what an important part she had played in the Ware household. To begin with, the place where she lived had always seemed a sort of enchanted land to the children. “The Old Kentucky Home” was their earliest cradle-song, and their favourite nursery-tales were about the people and places of Lloydsboro Valley, where their mother’s happy girlhood had been passed.
They might grow tired of Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. Aladdin and even Ali Baba and the forty thieves might lose their charm, but no story failed to interest them that began, “Once upon a time in Lloydsboro Valley.” These reminiscences had passed from Joyce to Jack, and on down the line, with the high chair and the Cock Robin book and the red building-blocks, belonging to each in turn, but claimed by all. Mary’s tears, Holland’s tempers, and Norman’s tantrums had many a time disappeared as if by magic, at those familiar words.
After Joyce’s return from the house-party at Locust, the Little Colonel became the central ﬁgure of interest, and all the glamour with which their childish imaginations had surrounded the place, now gathered around her like a nimbus around a saint. To Mary, who had read the “Princess Winsome” until she knew it all by heart, Lloyd was something between an ideal princess, who played on a golden harp, and an ideal little schoolgirl, who lived in a real palace, and did exactly as she pleased. She could talk of nothing else, after the letter came, and followed Joyce and her mother with innumerable questions, pausing often before the pictures of Lloyd and Tarbaby.
The boys’ interest in her coming was increased when they found that she was going to bring a riﬂe, and that her father had promised to hire a horse for her as soon as they arrived.
Phil, who came so often to the Wigwam now that he seemed almost one of the family, caught so much of its enthusiasm over the coming guest, that he planned picnics and excursions for every day of her visit. He even had a voice in what he called the Council of War, in which it was decided to let the two older boys move their cots out-of-doors.
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