Rose-Marie hung her head. “I went to the tenement every afternoon,” she admitted, “to the tenement. Oh, I know that you’re angry with me—I know it. And I don’t in the least blame you. I’ve been deceitful, I’ve sneaked away when your back was turned, I’ve practically told lies to you! Don’t think,” her voice was all a-tremble, “don’t think that I haven’t been sorry. I’ve been tremendously sorry ever so many times. I’ve tried to tell you, too—often. And I’ve tried to make you think my way. Do you remember the talk we had, that night when we were both so tired, in your sitting-room—before Dr. Blanchard came? I was trying to scrape up the courage to tell you, then, but you so disagreed with me that I didn’t dare!”
The Superintendent seemed scarcely to be listening. There seemed to be something upon her mind.
“Rose-Marie,” she said with a mock sternness, “you’re evading my questions. Answer me, child! Isn’t there any one that you—care for? Weren’t you out with some man?”
Rose-Marie was blushing furiously.
“No,” she admitted, “I wasn’t out with a man. I never had any sort of a sweetheart, not ever! I just let you all think that I was with some one because—if I hadn’t let you think that way—you might have made me stay in. I wouldn’t have made a point of deliberately telling you a falsehood—but Dr. Blanchard gave me the idea and “—defiantly—“I just let him think what he wanted to think!”
The Superintendent was laughing.
“What he wanted to think!” she exclaimed. “Oh, Rose-Marie—you’ve a lot to answer for! What he wanted to think....” Suddenly the laugh died out of her voice, all at once she was very serious. “Perhaps,” she said slowly, “your idea about the Volsky family is a good one. We’ll try it out, dear! There was a MAN, once, Who said: ’Suffer the little children to come—’Why, Rose-Marie, what’s the matter?” For Rose-Marie, her face hidden in the crook of her elbow, was crying like a very tired child.
It was with a light heart that Rose-Marie started back to the tenement. The tears had cleared her soul of the months of evasion that had so worried her—she felt suddenly free and young and happy. It was as if a rainbow had come up, tenderly, out of a storm-tossed sky; it was as if a star was shining, all at once, through the blackness of midnight. She felt a glad assurance of the future—a faith in the Hand of God, stretched out to His children. “Everything,” she sing-songed, joyously, to herself, “will come right, now. Everything will come right!”
It was strange how she suddenly loved all of the people, the almost mongrel races of people, who thronged the streets! She smiled brightly at a mother, pushing a baby-buggy—she thrust a coin into the withered hand of an old beggar. On a crowded corner she paused to listen to the vague carollings of a barrel organ, to pat the head of a frayed looking little monkey that hopped about in time to the music. All at once she wanted to know a dozen foreign languages so that she could tell those who passed her by that she was their friend—their friend!