“If there’s enough, Dan, don’t you think an ice-cream cone ’ud be fine; or do you think he’d ruther have some peanuts an’ pop-corn?”
“Peanuts an’ pop-corn’s all right, or maybe some candy an’ gum. You see if he can’t eat the ice-cream it ‘ud melt right away an’ wouldn’t be any good t’ anybody. But the other stuff ‘ud last, an’ if he’s too bad t’ eat it, he could always give it to his mother, or some of his friends.”
They carefully counted the thirty-five cents in the Treasury, and were deep in a financial debate when the Woman’s voice broke in upon their important discussion.
“Hello, boys, where are you?”
“We never seem to be able to get any place that some one don’t butt in on us,” groaned Dan. “I’ll bet if we went out on an ice hummock on Bering Sea that some Eskimo tom-cod fisher ‘ud show up beside us t’ fish through a hole in the ice. What do you s’pose she wants now?”
“I don’t know, Dan. But let’s tell her about Ben, and maybe she’ll want t’ take him the things t’ eat, an’ we can keep the thirty-five cents till he’s well an’ can help spend it some way he’d like better. P’raps on somethin’ for the dogs.”
“I was just coming to ask for him,” she said when informed of Ben’s illness. “I have missed him the last day or so, and wondered what was the matter.”
Then, “Let’s give him a party,” she exclaimed quickly. “A cold isn’t serious, and a party would cheer him up. Besides, I have been wanting to see Mrs. Edwards for a long time, and this is a good chance for a chat about the boy. And we’ll invite Baldy too.” She took some money out of her purse, and handed it to George. “You can both run downtown and get whatever boys like, and I’ll go for a cake I have at home, and meet you here in fifteen minutes.”
When they at last started for the Edwards house the boys felt that their modest mission of mercy had developed into quite a festive occasion. Their purchases ranged from dill pickles through ginger snaps to chocolate creams; while the Woman carried jellies and preserves and all sorts of dainties that inspired Dan with a sudden belief, confided to George, that invalidism, unmixed with literature, was not so much to be dreaded as he had always fancied.
“Depends on whether you get castor-oil or cake,” was the pessimistic reply of one who had gone through bitter experiences along those lines. “This just shows what belongin’ t’ orders does for you, Dan. If Ben wasn’t a member o’ the Bow Wows, I’ll bet he could ‘a’ died an’ hardly any one would ‘a’ known it but his mother. An’ now he’s havin’ a party give to him ‘cause our Society kinda hinted to her what we was plannin’ when she showed up.” And for once an approving glance was cast toward the Woman.
“When I’m old enough,” decided Dan, “I’m goin’ t’ belong t’ everything. You can wear feathers an’ gold braid in processions, an’ have stuff like this when you’re sick, an’ bully funerals with brass bands when you’re dead.”