’Dolph looked up at his mistress, then at the boy. He wagged his tail, not enthusiastically. He would fain have followed her, but he understood, and would obey.
Tilda went up the steps, and up the stairs. On the landing, as chance would have it, she met the Second Nurse coming out from the ward, with a sheet in one hand and a tray of medicines in the other.
“You extremely naughty child!” began the Second Nurse, but not in the shrill tone nor with quite the stern disapproval the child had expected. “When the doctor told you half an hour exactly, and you have been hours! What have you been doing?”
“Lookin’ up the old folks,” she answered, and took note first that the medicine bottles were those that had stood on the sick woman’s table, and next that the Second Nurse, as she came out, transferred the sheet to her arm and closed the door behind her.
“You must wait here for a moment, now you have come so late. I have had to give you another bed; and now I’ve to fetch some hot water, but I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Folks don’t make beds up with hot water,” thought Tilda.
She watched the nurse down the passage, stepped to the door, and turned the handle softly.
There was no change in the ward except that a tall screen stood by the sick woman’s bed. Tilda crept to the screen on tip-toe, and peered around it.
Ten seconds—twenty seconds—passed, and then she drew back and stole out to the landing, closing the door as softly as she had opened it. In the light of the great staircase window her face was pale and serious.
She went down the stairs slowly.
“Seems I made a mistake,” she said, speaking as carelessly as she could, but avoiding the boy’s eyes. “You wasn’ wanted up there, after all.”
But he gazed at her, and flung out both arms with a strangling sob.
“You won’t take me back! You’ll hide me—you won’t take me back!”
“Oh, ‘ush!” said Tilda. “No, I won’t take yer back, an’ I’ll do my best, but—oh, ’Dolph!”—she brushed the back of her hand across her eyes and turned to the dog with the bravest smile she could contrive— “to think of me bein’ a mother, at my time o’ life!”
TEMPORARY EMBARRASSMENTS OF A THESPIAN.
“Sinner that I am,” said the Showman, “see how you are destroying and ruining my whole livelihood!”—DON QUIXOTE.
Mr. Sam Bossom, having poled back to the towpath, stepped ashore, made fast his bow moorings, stood and watched the two childish figures as they passed up the last slope of the garden out of sight, and proceeded to deliver his remaining hundredweights of coal—first, however, peering down the manhole and listening, to assure himself that all was quiet below.
“If,” said he thoughtfully, “a man was to come an’ tell me a story like that, I’d call ’im a liar.”