The Twin Sisters
Written & Illustrated by JOHNNY
Everybody in the little village called them
the twin houses because they were built exactly alike. But the two little
cottages looked different even if they were built alike, for one was covered
with climbing vines and beautiful scarlet roses while the other had no
vines or flowers about it at all.
Everybody called the two cottages the twin
houses for another reason: the owners were twins. One of the twins was
Matilda and the other Katrinka and they were as much alike on the outside
as their two cottages were alike; but as their two cottages differed, so
did the two twins differ.
Matilda could not be told from Katrinka should you just see them walking
down the street, but the minute either of them spoke you would know which
was Matilda and which was Katrinka. Matilda, who lived in the bare cottage,
was sour and disagreeable, while Katrinka was happy and cheery.
So the people in the little village called
Matilda “Matilda Grouch” and they called Katrinka “Katrinka Sunshine”.
All the children of the little village loved Katrinka, for she always had
a cooky or a dainty in her apron pocket to give them, or she would pat
them on their curly heads and smile cheerily at them through her glasses.
And all the children avoided Matilda, for, sometimes mistaking her for
Katrinka and running close to greet her, they would have their noses tweeked
for their trouble.
Matilda’s life was lonely and cold; no one
went to see her. She was always unhappy.
Katrinka’s house always echoed with the laughter
of children; everyone went to see her. She was always joyful and cheery.
One night while Matilda sat at her dark window
looking across at Katrinka’s house, she saw a crowd of people tip-toeing
up to the stoop with baskets under their arms and flowers in their hands
and when all had crowded upon the porch they stamped their feet and made
a great noise.
Matilda was very angry, but Katrinka ran laughing to the door and greeted
all with her kindliest smile. It was a surprise party for Katrinka, for
it was her birthday.
Matilda watched the party from her dark window
and the longer she watched, the more angry she grew, for the longer the
party lasted, the louder grew the happy laughter.
Finally when all the guests had gone, Matilda
saw Katrinka gather up half of the presents and put them in a basket.
Then Katrinka stole softly up to Matilda’s
stoop and stamped her feet. Matilda sat scowling by the dark window a long
time before she finally went to the door, for she was very peevish.
“This is a fine time to come stamping upon
a person’s stoop!” she scolded, as Katrinka walked into the living room.
“Oh, sister,” Katrinka cried, as she tried
to kiss Matilda. “This is our birthday and I have brought you half of the
presents which were given me! See?” and she piled the presents high upon
“I do not wish them!” said Matilda, frowning
at her sister. But Katrinka could see that Matilda did wish them.
“The presents were not for me, Katrinka!”
“Oh yes they are!” Katrinka replied. “They
were given to me and I give them to you! I have saved one half for myself!
But you should have been to the party!” said Katrinka, “We had such a happy
“I do not enjoy being with people!” Matilda
scolded, “I wish to be left to myself!”
“Yes, but Matilda,” her sister said, “you
do not know the happiness in being kind and friendly to others!”
“Pooh!” sniffed Matilda.
“I just wish you could take my place and know
the happiness that is in my heart tonight,” Katrinka smiled.
“I just wish you could take my place and know
the unhappiness that is in my heart tonight!” said Matilda, “You would
see that a lot of children screeching about the house with all their presents
could not bring me happiness!”
Katrinka thought a moment, “I have it, Matilda!
We will change places! You must live in my house and pretend that you are
me, and I will live in your house and pretend that I am you! And you must
smile and be friendly just as I would do.”
After a great deal of coaxing, Matilda finally
agreed that she would change places with Katrinka and try to smile when
anyone came to see her.
“But only for three days!” she said.
So Matilda went over to Katrinka’s cottage
and went to bed and Katrinka stayed in Matilda’s cottage, but she did not
go to bed.
Instead she went all over the house and tidied
everything up and placed pretty white curtains at the windows. In the morning
neighbors came to Katrinka’s house, and Matilda, taking Katrinka’s place
met them with a smile, and soon in spite of herself she was laughing and
And when they left, Matilda felt that she
enjoyed having them there.
But what was the callers’ surprise when they
passed Matilda’s cottage to see someone planting flowers around the stoop.
They stopped in wonderment and, as Katrinka looked up at them with a cheery
“Good Morning!” and a happy smile they could scarce believe their eyes
and ears, for they thought it was Matilda.
And these callers told other neighbors and
they called at Katrinka’s house and visited with Matilda and Matilda was
so pleased she laughed as cheerily as Katrinka could laugh. And as the
neighbors left they saw Katrinka in Matilda’s front yard planting flowers
and stopped in open mouthed wonder to gaze at her, for they thought she
And when Katrinka smiled at them and said
her cheery “Good morning” they could scarcely believe their eyes and ears.
The neighbors all put their heads together,
and that evening they filled their baskets with goodies and presents and,
with large bouquets of flowers, they tiptoed up to Matilda’s front stoop
and stamped their feet.
Now Katrinka had called Matilda over to her
own house to see the changes she had made and Matilda was beginning to
see what she had missed all along. And as they were talking, there came
a noise at the front stoop.
“Shall I go to the door, Matilda?” asked Katrinka.
“No, I will go, Katrinka!” Matilda replied,
her face alight with happiness. So Matilda welcomed her guests as cheerily
as Katrinka had done the evening before and the laughter lasted until ‘way
in the night.
And when the last guest had left, Matilda
took Katrinka in her arms and said, “I will not need to change places with
you again, Katrinka, for I have found that there is far more pleasure in
being happy than in being unhappy!” “Of course there is, Matilda!” Katrinka
replied. “You see, in order to be happy ourselves we must reflect happiness
to others, and the more cheer we give to others the more joy we receive
ourselves, so we must continue to change from one house to another every
other day so that no one will know which of us is Matilda and which is
Katrinka and we will share our happiness with each other.”
So Matilda’s house was soon surrounded with
beautiful flowers and her house echoed with the fun and laughter of happy
And the two sisters who looked alike now acted alike and could not be told
apart, and they changed about so often people never knew whether they were
visiting Katrinka or whether they were visiting Matilda, for one was as
cheery as the other and was as happy in the love of all the people in the
And, as they could not be told apart, everyone
called Matilda or Katrinka the Cheery Twins whenever they spoke of either.