“This is our greatest misfortune since the donation of the thirty-seven little red plaid shawls. Well, good-night. By the way, what’s his name?”
“Patsy Dennis. I shall take him. I’ll tell you more on Monday. Please step into Gilbert’s and buy a comfortable little cane-seated armchair, larger than these, and ask one of your good Samaritans to make a soft cushion for it. We’ll give him the table that we had made for Johnny Cass. Poor Johnny! I am sorry he has a successor so soon.”
In five minutes I was taking my homeward walk, mind and heart full of my elfish visitor, with his strange and ancient thoughts, his sharp speeches and queer fancies. Would he ever come back, or would one of those terrible spasms end his life before I was permitted to help and ease his crooked body, or pour a bit of mother-love into his starved little heart?
[Illustration: MISS HELEN.]
BEHIND THE SCENES.
Some children are like
little human scrawl-books, blotted all over
with the sins and mistakes of their ancestors.
Monday morning came as mornings do come, bringing to the overworked body and mind a certain languor difficult to shake off. As I walked down the dirty little street, with its rows of old-clothes shops, saloons, and second-hand-furniture stores, I called several of my laggards, and gave them a friendly warning. “Quarter of nine, Mrs. Finnigan!” “Bless me soul, darlin’! Well, I will hurry up my childern, that I will; but the baby was that bad with whoopin’-cough last night that I never got three winks meself, darlin’!”
“All right; never mind the apron; let Jimmy walk on with me, and I will give him one at school.” Jimmy trots proudly at my side, munching a bit of baker’s pie and carrying my basket. I drop into Mrs. Powers’ suite of apartments in Rosalie Alley, and find Lafayette Powers still in bed. His twelve-year-old sister and guardian, Hildegarde, has over-slept, as usual, and breakfast is not in sight. Mrs. Powers goes to a dingy office up town at eight o’clock, her present mission in life being the healing of the nations by means of mental science. It is her fourth vocation in two years, the previous ones being tissue-paper flowers, lustre painting, and the agency for a high-class stocking supporter. I scold Hildegarde roundly, and she scrambles sleepily about the room to find a note that Mrs. Powers has left for me. I rejoin my court in the street, and open the letter with anticipation.