“We don’t expect to do that,” said the old lady, turning her pleasant face toward him; “but even if the human heart is desperately wicked, shouldn’t that make us much more eager to try to educate, to ennoble, and restrain? However, as far as my experience goes, and I have lived in this wicked world for seventy-five years, I find that the human heart, though wicked and cruel, as you say, has yet some soft and tender spots, and the impressions made upon it in youth are never, never effaced. Do you not remember better than anything else, standing at your mother’s knee—the pressure of her hand, her kiss on your forehead?”
By this time our engine had arrived. A whistle was blowing, and nearly every one was rushing from the room, the impatient old gentleman among the first. Miss Laura was hurriedly trying to do up her shawl strap, and I was standing by, wishing that I could help her. The old lady and the young man were the only other people in the room, and we could not help hearing what they said.
“Yes, I do,” he said in a thick voice, and his face got very red. “She is dead now—I have no mother.”
“Poor boy!” and the old lady laid her hand on his shoulder. They were standing up, and she was taller than he was. “May God bless you. I know you have a kind heart. I have four stalwart boys, and you remind me of the youngest. If you are ever in Washington come to see me.” She gave him some name, and he lifted his hat and looked as if he was astonished to find out who she was. Then he, too, went away, and she turned to Miss Laura. “Shall I help you, my dear?”
“If you please,” said my young mistress. “I can’t fasten this strap.”
In a few seconds the bundle was done up, and we were joyfully hastening to the train. It was only a few miles to Riverdale, so the conductor let me stay in the car with Miss Laura. She spread her coat out on the seat in front of her, and I sat on it and looked out of the car window as we sped along through a lovely country, all green and fresh in the June sunlight. How light and pleasant this car was—so different from the baggage car. What frightens an animal most of all things, is not to see where it is going, not to know what is going to happen to it. I think that they are very like human beings in this respect.
The lady had taken a seat beside Miss Laura, and as we went along, she too looked out of the window and said in a low voice:
“What is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days.”
“That is very true,” said Miss Laura; “how sad that the autumn must come, and the cold winter.”
“No, my dear, not sad. It is but a preparation for another summer.”
“Yes, I suppose it is,” said Miss Laura. Then she continued a little shyly, as her companion leaned over to stroke my cropped ears “You seem very fond of animals.”
“I am, my dear. I have four horses, two cows, a tame squirrel, three dogs, and a cat.”