And the dolls, while they did not tell him so, knew that he had had the most fun because he had given them the most pleasure.
For, as you must surely know, they who are the most unselfish are the ones who gain the greatest joy; because they give happiness to others.
[Illustration: The French doll balanced lightly upon one foot]
[Illustration: In front of the toy stove]
[Illustration: Four dolls]
“Whee! It’s good to be back home again!” said Raggedy Andy to the other dolls, as he stretched his feet out in front of the little toy stove and rubbed his rag hands briskly together, as if to warm them.
All the dolls laughed at Raggedy Andy for doing this, for they knew there had never been a fire in the little toy stove in all the time it had been in the nursery. And that was a long time.
“We are so glad and happy to have you back home again with us!” the dolls told Raggedy Andy. “For we have missed you very, very much!”
“Well,” Raggedy Andy replied, as he held his rag hands over the tiny lid of the stove and rubbed them again, “I have missed all of you, too, and wished many times that you had been with me to join in and share in the pleasures and frolics I’ve had.”
And as Raggedy Andy continued to hold his hands over the little stove, Uncle Clem asked him why he did it.
Raggedy Andy smiled and leaned back in his chair. “Really,” he said, “I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing! I’ve spent so much of my time while I was away drying out my soft cotton stuffing it seems as though it has almost become a habit.”
“Were you wet most of the time, Raggedy Andy?” the French doll asked.
“Nearly all the time!” Raggedy Andy replied. “First I would get sopping wet and then I’d freeze!”
“Freeze!” exclaimed all the dolls in one breath.
“Dear me, yes!” Raggedy Andy laughed. “Just see here!” And Raggedy Andy pulled his sleeve up and showed where his rag arm had been mended. “That was quite a rip!” he smiled.
“Dear! Dear! How in the world did it happen? On a nail?” Henny, the Dutch doll, asked as he put his arm about Raggedy Andy.
“Froze!” said Raggedy Andy.
The dolls gathered around Raggedy Andy and examined the rip in his rag arm.
“It’s all right now!” he laughed. “But you should have seen me when it happened! I was frozen into one solid cake of ice all the way through, and when Marcella tried to limber up my arm before it had thawed out, it went, ‘Pop!’ and just bursted.
“Then I was placed in a pan of nice warm water until the icy cotton inside me had melted, and then I was hung up on a line above the kitchen stove, out at Gran’ma’s.”
“But how did you happen to get so wet and then freeze?” asked Raggedy Ann.