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The little girl with the pony tail hairdo was about 8 years old, and she stood on the edge of the front lawn watching four boys at hurly-burly horseplay. The boys, from two to four years older, were tumbling and wrestling over the lawn, yipping and snorting in four-part harmony. If the little girl betrayed the urge to join the fun, it was only by occasionally raising herself on tiptoes and leaning toward the action—and each time she lowered herself with resignation.
One of the boys began turning cart wheels and instantly all four were at it—clumsy, coltish, turning two in succession, at the most, before they collapsed. Moving a bit closer, the little girl began turning cart wheels too—gracefully and in a perfect circle. Every other wheel, she flipped herself over with one hand instead of two.
There was a moment of quiet as all four boys watched her and then, with a yip, one of them started standing on his hands. Immediately, the other three were trying it. One pulled out a pocket watch and began timing the others to see who could hold the handstand longest. None got past three or four seconds, and all the while the little girl was jumping up and down, pony tail bobbing furiously, and calling, "Time me too! Time me too!"
Ignored completely, she finally flipped herself onto her hands just as one of the boys got on his.
"One...two..." the timer sang out, "three.... four...(here the boy tumbled in a heap)...five...six...seven...." The timer trailed off. The little girl balanced herself straight and still. The quiet lasted a bit longer this time.
"Time me on my head!" one of the boys yelled, and up he went and held it for 18 seconds. The little girl watched until all of them tried a headstand. Then, as the boy who was best at it got up for the second time, she did too.
Wobbling all the while, the boy lasted for 27 seconds. From then on, there was dead silence for another minute and 20 seconds. The boys stared. The little girl held true.
One boy finally broke the spell. "Let's play ball!" he yelled. "I'm going home and get my mitt!"—and all four turned away and ran off.
The little girl got down slowly from her headstand. She stood watching the four retreating figures. Then she took possession of the lawn with one long burst of cart wheels.