"The Peddler's Doll"
by Rev. Samuel A. Trumbore

The story I'm about to tell you is one that you wouldn't have seen in the newspapers, watched on television or heard about on the radio. The story is what is called, an urban legend which gets passed around without anyone knowing where it originated or whether it is true or false. I pass it on today because I know that there is truth in this story even if things didn't happen exactly the way I'm about to tell the story.

In a small town that could have been any town in America, there lived a family with two girls. The older girl was named Kathy. Kathy was 10 years old. The younger girl was named Suzy. Suzy was 8 years old. Unlike many sisters, Kathy and Suzy got along very well and liked to play together. Their Father, a year ago, had made them a three story doll house which was almost taller than Suzy. On the first floor, it had a large kitchen with a antique metal miniature wood stove, a sink which had real running water, and cupboards which opened to reveal tiny cans and boxes of food, dishes, glasses and even doll size silverware. Downstairs there was also a parlor and dining room with a candelabra which lit up when a micro switch was pushed. Upstairs were the bedrooms and a study. In the attic were little wooden trunks and cardboard storage boxes. The house was a masterpiece of design and construction with glass in the windows and shingles on the roof.

As you might imagine, the girls were thrilled to pieces by this house as they watched it being constructed by their father. When it was finished, he told the girls that they could only play with the new house if they played together and cooperated in its use. Their father thought this would be a great way to head off the girl's sibling rivalry. At first it wasn't easy for them to share the house as Kathy wanted to boss Suzy around and Suzy only wanted her dolls to get to use the bedrooms. Gradually they worked out their differences and were able to play most of the time harmoniously.

That is until a peddler came to the door selling children's toys. Their mother usually turned these people away but Kathy and Suzy had caught a glimpse of what was carrying in his sack and demanded to see what he had for sale. The peddler hadn't shaved or taken a bath for a week and walked with a stiff limp as he put his sack down on the kitchen table filling the room with his manly odor mixed with the scent of tobacco smoke and whiskey. Even though he was missing several front teeth, there was a warmth in his smile that put one's mind at ease.

Most of his toys were pre-owned and likely collected from a dump with pieces missing, crooked wheels, and scratched paint. This didn't seem to bother the girls who picked over them very carefully. One toy was quite unlike the rest. It was a beautiful clean doll with long untangled hair dressed in a pink satin gown. The doll almost radiated light from its face.

As you might imagine, both girls immediately wanted the doll and began first to beg their mother for it then fight each other to have it. The peddler laughed at the situation and said "I do not have another one so it would have to go to only one of you."

"Perhaps you could share this doll, girls." Suggested the mother thinking of the way the girls had learned to share the doll house. "No it must be mine" screamed Kathy. "I saw it first" shouted Suzy jumping up and down.

The peddler winked at Kathy then looked at Suzy and said, "This doll's name is Sabrina. She came to me from a very sad woman I visited recently who had lost her youngest daughter to leukemia. She gave me the doll and told me it could only be given to a youngest daughter who would love her the way her daughter did before she died. This doll is very special because it carries that little girl's love inside it."

"I'll love her with all my heart!" squealed Suzy taking Sabrina into her arms.

"Hrumph" growled Kathy as she looked away in anger and hurt.

The peddler then looked at Kathy and said, "Even though I'm giving this doll to your sister, there is enough love in this doll for the both of you."

"Fat chance!" pouted Kathy as she stormed out of the room.

As you might imagine, the new doll, Sabrina, who had taken up residence in the three story doll house, did not make for harmonious relations between the two girls. One couldn't really blame the happy little Sabrina for this since her smile and bright eyes were only painted on. But the trouble she cause was great.

Suzy had Sabrina move into the master bedroom and made her queen of the doll house over Kathy's objections. Kathy was filled with jealousy and wanted the doll for herself. When Suzy let her play with Sabrina (under direct orders from her mother and father), Kathy's desire to possess Sabrina just grew and grew. There was something magically attractive about this doll she couldn't resist. She couldn't bear watching Suzy getting to play with Sabrina all the time. Kathy began to plot a way to have Sabrina all for herself.

So one night Kathy lay quietly in bed listening for her father and mother to turn out the lights and go to bed. When the sounds of soft snoring started to come through the walls from her parent's bedroom, she softly crept out from under the covers and snuck quietly to check on Suzy who was fast asleep. Next she walked carefully toward the playroom. A floorboard made a loud squeak and Kathy froze in her tracks. The snoring stopped for a minute but then began again louder than before. As Kathy turned to go into the playroom, she brushed against a floor lamp which started falling over. Kathy caught it just before it hit the ground and gingerly set it right again. In the dark she could see her prize, the beautiful Sabrina sitting regally in the doll house master bedroom. As she picked up the doll, in the distance a cock crowed into the darkness, then all was silent.

In Kathy's closet, behind her clothes and shoes, was a metal plate on the wall which gave access to the bathtub pipes. She used a screw driver take out the screws and hid Sabrina there for the time being. Once the plate was back in place and screwed in, Kathy crawled back into bed happy that she was now in possession of the object of her affections.

The next morning Suzy was not so happy. In fact she was hysterical. After overturning everything in the playroom looking for Sabrina, she seized upon the likely suspect, Kathy and demanded to know where she was. Playing the innocent dumb bunny (to use Art Howard's endearing term) she shrugged her shoulders pretending she was as surprised and upset as her sister. Suzy demanded to search Kathy's room which she permitted knowing Suzy was unlikely to find her hiding place. It took the better part of a day for Suzy, Kathy, and their parents to search the entire house from top to bottom but no Sabrina was found.

The next two days, Suzy was despondent and withdrawn while Kathy was consoling and cheerful feeding on the pleasure of her malevolence. Their mother and father suspected Kathy had done something with Sabrina--but had no evidence to go on--so were reluctant to make any accusations. It was a tense situation.

The third afternoon Suzy was still moping around lying on her bed, her eyes red from crying. Kathy was getting uncomfortable with how much her sister was suffering so she decided to ride her bicycle to the store to get her an ice cream cone to cheer her up. When she got to the store, she ordered a double scoop peppermint ice cream cone with sprinkles and a cherry on top. On the way home, as fate would have it, Kathy was paying more attention to the ice cream cone in her hand than where she was going. She missed a large pot hole in her path, went into the hole then over the handlebars and into some shrubbery losing the ice cream cone and bumping her head.

Kathy wasn't badly injured, perhaps a scrape or two, and didn't loose consciousness, or have her life flash before her eyes or anything like that but she was dazed for a minute and in that minute, the image of Sabrina's smiling face came into her mind as if she were saying, "I love you too." All of a sudden Kathy felt tremendous remorse for her theft. Then and there decided she would have to return Sabrina to her sister.

Fortunately, Kathy's bicycle was still ridable and she rode home ready to make amends. She went to her room and unscrewed the metal panel in her closet. Now it was her turn to be surprised. She hadn't opened the panel since she had put Sabrina behind it for fear of being discovered--and now she was gone. Kathy's heart rose into her throat. She looked and looked but Sabrina was not there.

Even without the doll to return, Kathy's conscience was now getting the best of her. She went into Suzy's room ready to confess her deed and ask for forgiveness. Suzy was half asleep and started when Kathy sat down on her bed.

"I have to tell you something Suzy" started Kathy. "You're love for Sabrina was making me very jealous so I stole her so I could have her all to myself. When I was riding home on my bicycle with an ice cream cone for you, I fell off my bike and into some bushes. I realized how bad my behavior had been so I came back to return her to you but I couldn't find her in the secret hiding place I put her. I feel terrible and am very sorry."

Suzy looked at her and smiled. "I knew you did it. And if you told me this this morning I would have been very, very angry. But as I was lying here, the image of Sabrina's smiling face came into my mind as if she were saying, `I love you too.' Suddenly I felt like I didn't need her back, she was inside me in a way that I could never lose her."

(Their mother and father listening quietly from their bedroom to their girls conversation nodded to each other in approval.)

"I wonder what did happene to Sabrina?" wondered Kathy as she looked out the window. Suddenly she jumped up, ran downstairs and out the door followed closely by Suzy. "What did you see?" asked Suzy panting behind her.

"I guess I was mistaken, but I thought I saw the peddler walking away down the street." she said.

Well, I don't know if it was the peddler or what happened to Sabrina. That is as far as the story goes. Upon hearing this story some think the peddler stole her back. Others say the parents figured it out. No one knows for sure. Every now and again, I hear stories about a peddler like this one who comes into town bearing unusual gifts and the strange things which happen. What we can be sure of is that Sabrina brought a new kind of love into the hearts of these girls in a way neither expected.

Copyright (c) 1996 by Rev. Samuel A. Trumbore. All rights reserved.