“There. See how far you can make that go.”
“That’s good,” said Hazel, heartily, looking at it; “that’s splendid!” and never gave him a word of personal thanks. It was a thing for mutual congratulations, rather, it would seem; the “good” was just what they all wanted, and there it was. Why should anybody in particular be thanked, as if anybody in particular had asked for anything? She did not say this, or think it; she simply did not think about it at all.
And Uncle Oldways—again—liked it.
There! I shall not try, now, to tell you any more; their experiences, their difficulties, their encouragements, would make large material for a much larger book. I want you to know of the idea, and the attempt. If they fail, partly,—if drunken fathers steal the shoes, and the innocent have to forfeit for the guilty,—if the bad words still come to the lips often, though Hazel tells them they are not “nice,”—and beginning at the outside, they are in a fair way of learning the niceness of being nice,—if some children come once or twice, and get dressed up, and then go off and live in the gutters again until the clothes are gone,—are these real failures? There is a bright, pure place down there in Neighbor Street, and twice a week some little children have there a bright, pure time. Will this be lost in the world? In the great Ledger of God will it always stand unbalanced on the debit side?
If you are afraid it will fail,—will be swallowed up in the great sink of vice and misery, like a single sweet, fresh drop, sweet only while it is falling,—go and do likewise; rain down more; make the work larger, stronger; pour the sweetness in faster, till the wide, grand time of full refreshing shall have come from the presence of the Lord!
Ada Geoffrey went down and helped. Miss Craydocke is going to knit scarlet stockings all winter for them; Mr. Geoffrey has put a regular bath-room in for Luclarion, with half partitions, and three separate tubs; Mrs. Geoffrey has furnished a dormitory, where little homeless ones can be kept to sleep. Luclarion has her hands full, and has taken in a girl to help her, whose board and wages Rachel Froke and Asenath Scherman pay. A thing like that spreads every way; you have only to be among, and one of—Real Folks.
* * * * *
Desire, besides her work in Neighbor Street, has gone into the Normal School. She wants to make herself fit for any teaching; she wants also to know and to become a companion of earnest, working girls.
She told Uncle Titus this, after she had been with him a month, and had thought it over; and Uncle Titus agreed, quite as if it were no real concern of his, but a very proper and unobjectionable plan for her, if she liked it.
One day, though, when Marmaduke Wharne—who had come this fall again to stay his three days, and talk over their business,—sat with him in his study, just where they had sat two years and a little more ago, and Hazel and Desire ran up and down stairs together, in and out upon their busy Wednesday errands,—Marmaduke said to Titus,—