In truth, she was just talking about children. The first part of her story had passed: her birthplace, education, situation; and now she was saying:
“I have always had the temptation, but I have always resisted it. Now,”—with a blush at her excuse,—“it may be your spring weather, your birds, your flowers, your sky—and your children in the streets. The longing came over me yesterday: I thought of it on the stage, I thought of it afterward—it was better than sleeping; and this morning”—her eyes moistened, she breathed excitedly—“I was determined. I gave up, I made inquiry, I was sent to you. Would it be possible? Would there be any place” ("any role,” she said first) “in any of your asylums, in any of your charitable institutions, for me? I would ask nothing but my clothes and food, and very little of that; the recompense would be the children—the little girl children,” with a smile—can you imagine the smile of a woman dreaming of children that might be? “Think! Never to have held a child in my arms more than a moment, never to have felt a child’s arms about my neck! Never to have known a child! Born on a stage, my mother born on a stage!” Ah, there were tragic possibilities in that voice and movement! “Pardon, madam. You see how I repeat. And you must be very wearied hearing about me. But I could be their nurse and their servant. I would bathe and dress them, play with them, teach them their prayers; and when they are sick they would see no difference. They would not know but what their mother was there!”
Oh, she had her program all prepared; one could see that.
“And I would sing to them—no! no!” with a quick gesture, “nothing from the stage; little songs and lullabys I have picked up traveling around, and,” hesitating, “little things I have composed myself—little things that I thought children would like to hear some day.” What did she not unconsciously throw into those last words? “I dream of it,” she pursued, talking with as little regard to me as on the stage she sang to the prima donna. “Their little arms, their little faces, their little lips! And in an asylum there would be so many of them! When they cried and were in trouble I would take them in my lap, and I would say to them, with all sorts of tenderness—” She had arranged that in her program, too—all the minutiae