I spared him nothing in the recital, and his stern features softened as I emphasised Gloriana’s anxiety to save Miriam from worry. As I finished, the faithful creature opened her eyes, which rested naturally upon the face of Miriam.
“Why—it’s my little girl,” she said faintly. Doctor Standish bent forward.
“If she mistakes you for one of her own kin, don’t undeceive her. Play the part.”
Miriam nodded, and kissed the frail hands that fluttered round her head.
“Gimme my parcel,” she said presently, in a stronger voice. “Mercy sakes! I’m awful weak; but I’d like ter show my little girl the things I made for her.”
The parcel was brought and untied. Gloriana touched the garments tenderly.
“Nothin’,” she murmured, “kin come closer to ye than these pretty things, excep’ the love I stitched into ’em. When you wear ’em you’ll think o’ me, Miss Standish.”
At the sound of her name the girl started, and looked askance at her grandfather, who turned his head aside.
“Who is this woman!” she asked in a low voice.
The answer came from Gloriana, slowly and distinctly.
“I’m—nothin’—to—ye; but ye’ve bin the world an’ all ter me. Well—I said I’d never go ter my little girl, because I wasn’t fit, but I always thought that the Lord in His mercy would bring her ter me. Ye wore the clothes I sent, an’ mebbee ye wondered who made ’em. ’Twas the happiness o’ my life sewing on ’em, an’ ter think you was wearin’ them. I’ve worked awful hard, but I kin take it easy—now. I feel reel sleepy, too. Good-night, my pretty, good-night!”
We were quite unprepared for what happened, believing that our poor friend was merely over-wrought and weary. But as the words “good-night” fell softly upon our ears Gloriana sighed peacefully—and died.
“Who is this woman?” said Miriam for the second time, thinking that Gloriana had fallen asleep.
The Doctor was not so deceived. He pressed forward, and laid his trembling fingers upon the wrist of the dead, and then bent his head till it rested upon the breast of her he had counted a scandalous sinner. When he confronted us the tears were rolling down his face.
“May God forgive me!” he cried, falling upon his knees. “This woman, Miriam, was your mother.”
Bumblepuppy is a synonym of whist played in defiance of certain time-honoured conventions and principles. Ajax said with reason that Johnnie Kapus, the nephew of our neighbour, old man Kapus, played the game of life in such a sorry, blundering fashion that he marvelled why his uncle gave him house-room. Ajax christened Johnnie—Bumble-puppy.
Once we hired Johnnie to work for us at the rate of half-a-dollar a day. A heavy rain-storm had just taken place, and my brother insisted that Johnnie was the right man to fill up the “wash-outs” in and about the corrals. He was strong, big, docile as a cow, and he lived within a few hundred yards of the ranch-house.