“Oh, Patsy! I wish”—
“Why, didn’t I ought ter say that?”
“I wish you had a mother, dear.”
“If I had, I’d know more ’n I do now,” and a great sigh heaved itself upward from beneath the blue jacket.
“No, you wouldn’t know so much, Patsy, or at least you would get the right end first. Never mind, dear boy, you can’t understand.”
“Jim says Mis’ Kennett ’nd I needn’t set such store by you, ’cause the fust chance you gits you’ll git married.” (I always did have an elective antipathy for Jim.) “Shall yer, Miss Kate?”
“Why, dear, I think we are very happy as we are, don’t you?”
“Yes, ef I could only stay f’rever, ’nd not go ter the reel school. Jim says I ought ter be gittin’ book learnin’ pretty soon.”
“Did you tell him that Miss Helen was teaching you to read and write a little while every afternoon?”
“Yes, I told him. He liked it fust rate. Mis’ Kennett said she’d let her childern stay f’rever with yer, ef they never larned a thing, ’nd so would I, dear, dear Miss Kate! Oh, I bet God would like to see you in that pretty blue dress!” and he hung over me with a speechless caress; his first, and last indeed, for he was shy and reticent in emotion, and never once showed his affection in the presence of the other children.
[Illustration: PAULINA’S “GOOD-MORNINGS TO JOHNNY CASS.”]
PATSY FINDS HIS THREE LOST YEARS.
“Now God be thanked
for years enwrought
With love which softens yet.
Now God he thanked for every thought
Which is so tender it has caught
Earth’s guerdon of regret.”
Well, Jim did not succeed in finding his girl, although he “looked” industriously. Either the “millingnaries” did not smile upon him and his slender bank account, or they were not willing to wash the dishes and halve the financial responsibilities besides; but as the winter days slipped by, we could not help seeing that Patsy’s pale face grew paler and his soft dark eyes larger and more pathetic. In spite of better care than he had ever had before, he was often kept at home by suffering all too intense for a child to bear. It was almost as if a sixth sense came to him in those days, so full was he of strange thoughts and intuitions. His eyes followed me wistfully as I passed from one child to another, and when my glance fell upon him, his loving gaze seemed always waiting for mine.
When we were alone, as he pored over picture-books, or sat silently by the window, watching the drops chase each other down the pane, his talk was often of heaven and the angels.
[Illustration: “HE SAT SILENTLY BY THE WINDOW.”]