Not that!” screamed Sheila. “Yes not her!” repeated Anna. “She will stay with us.” Sheila snatched Matilda from her maid and they ran to their room.
In case you are wondering what I am talking about or who is Matilda? Well, Matilda is Sheila and Anna’s favorite doll and the children, along with the maid, were sorting out their old toys to be given to poor children on Christmas.
Matilda was a funny little doll, stuffed with bits of old clothes. Her eyes were made of two little black buttons, her hair was made of red wool and her nose was flat. Matilda was always smiling and was very soft and cuddly. She was given to the children by their grandmother when Sheila was three years old and Anna only two.
Every year a whole lot of new toys came and the old ones were given away on Christmas but the children never parted with Matilda.
That Christmas also a great many toys came. Sheila and Anna had many aunts and uncles who gave them lovely toys. There were four new dolls, a big dollhouse, a stuffed giraffe, a pink teddy bear and a smart sailor doll.
The old toys looked at the new ones and thought how beautiful they were. The new toys looked at the old ones and turned up their noses at them.
“What dirty creatures!” exclaimed the new pink teddy bear. Then their eyes fell on Matilda who was shyly standing in a corner.
“Are you a doll or a pile of rubbish?” Asked one of the new dolls.
“Why don’t you wash your dirty old clothes?” asked the doll with beautiful golden hair.
“I sure hope we don’t have to stay in the same toy cupboard as you,” said the sailor doll.
“Don’t talk to her like that!” shouted Golu, the old elephant, who was Matilda’s best friend.
“Oh really! Who is going to stop us?” said the new giraffe, Tilu.
Matilda was very sad. She knew she was old and dirty but she was helpless. She couldn’t wash her clothes because they were sewn on to her and it was impossible to brush her red woolen hair.
Anyways, all the toys, new and old, settled down amidst frequent fights and arguments but Matilda managed to stay out of it all. The new toys would often joke about her clothes, her hair, her eyes but she never said a single harsh word to anyone.
Now the children were giving a big Christmas party to all their friends. They decorated a big Christmas tree in the hall. Little gifts were tied to it for their guests and it looked simply lovely but something was still missing.
“We must have a fairy doll at the top of the tree. It just doesn’t look right otherwise,” said Sheila and Anna agreed. So, they both went to the market to buy a fairy doll but they couldn’t get one anywhere.
“I wonder if we should put one of our new toys at the top of the tree,” said Anna.
All the new toys pricked up their ears at that. “I would look great there,” said the doll with golden hair.
“I think I would look rather sweet up there,” said the doll in blue frock.
“I am sure the children would rather have me for a change,” said the pink teddy.
The old toys listened to all this and so did Matilda. She had absolutely no hope of ever getting there. “But I must be thankful that I wasn’t given away or thrown in the dustbin,” she thought to herself.
That night after the children had gone to sleep, their mother went to the toy cupboard. All the new toys were thrilled. Each one was sure of being chosen. But she didn’t exactly like any particular toy.
Mother shut the cupboard door and then she suddenly saw Matilda in a corner. That dark little corner had become her bed now as the new toys had turned her out of the toy cupboard. Mother picked her up and carried her to her room upstairs.
“I am going to make you into the most beautiful fairy doll Matilda!” said Mother. “You shall have a new silver dress, shining silver wings, a wand and a beautiful golden crown.”
Mother worked hard till late night. Matilda’s old clothes were taken off and her hair was washed. She was given a complete new look. Mother was really pleased. “You look lovely Matilda! You are the prettiest fairy doll we have ever had. Wait till the kids see you in the morning.”
The next morning Sheila and Anna were really delighted to see dear Matilda at the top of the Christmas tree. Lots of children came for the party and every one had great things to say about the lovely fairy doll.
The other toys listened to all this. At night when every guest had left and the family had gone to bed, they all crept to the hall where the tree was.
They all stood in silence, staring at the fairy doll. She looked so beautiful at the top of the Christmas tree.
“Oh how I wish she could come and stay with us in the toy cupboard,” said the sailor doll.
“That will be great fun!” said the new dolls.
Tilu, the new giraffe craned up his neck and asked her, “Dear fairy doll would you like to come and stay with all of us in the toy cupboard?”
“Thank you,” said a very familiar voice. “But are you sure you want me?”
“Of course!” said everyone.
“So the fairy doll came down and all the toys crowded around her.
Suddenly Golu, the old elephant came forward. “Matilda! It is indeed you! I thought you had been given away. Oh, I am so happy for you. You deserved to be the fairy doll.” And he gave her a tight hug.
There was silence all around. All the toys stared in amazement.
The old toys were very happy but the new ones kept quiet. They had always been so nasty to her and now they were feeling very awkward.
“I won’t come to stay with you all if you don’t want me to,” said Matilda politely.
“Oh Matilda, we are all so sorry!” said the new toys.
“You are so good and kind. Please forgive us and let us all be friends. After all next year even we will be old toys and new ones will take our place,” said the golden haired doll.
“Please Matilda. Do come and stay with us,” said the pink teddy bear.
So Matilda forgave the new toys and still lives happily in the toy cupboard with them and her old friends. None of the toys fight anymore. And each Christmas Matilda goes back to the top of the Christmas tree.