“Now, if you guess right this time, you’ll get a reward.”
“Why,—Santa Claus will bring you a whole lot of nice—”
“I don’t believe that;—he will be too busy with some other folks I know, who—”
“No, he won’t—I know he’s going to bring you—Oh!” She suddenly took one hand from Clark’s eyes and clapped it over her mouth—but next second replaced it.—“And besides, I’ll give you a whole lot of kisses.”
“Oh! yes, I know—the Princess with the Golden Locks, Santa Claus’s Partner—the sweetest little kitten in the world, and her name is—Kitty Clark.”
“Umhm—m!” And on a sudden, the arms were transferred from about the forehead to the neck and the little girl, with her sunny head canted to one side, was making good her promise of reward. Livingstone could hear the kisses.
The next second they moved out of the line of reflection in Livingstone’s mirror. But he could still catch fragments of what they said. Clark spoke too low to be heard; but now and then, Livingstone could catch the little girl’s words. Indeed, he could not help hearing her.
“Oh! papa!” she exclaimed in a tone of disappointment, replying to something her father had told her.
“But papa you must come—You promised!”
Again her father talked to her low and soothingly.
“But papa—I’m so disappointed—I’ve saved all my money just to have you go with me. And mamma—I’ll go and ask him to let you come.”
Her father evidently did not approve of this, and the next moment he led the child to the door, still talking to her soothingly, and Livingstone heard him kiss her and tell her to wait for him below.
Livingstone let himself out of his side-door. He did not want to meet Clark just then. He was not in a comfortable frame of mind. He had a little headache.
As he turned into the street, he passed the little girl he had seen up-stairs. She was wiping her little, smeared face with her handkerchief, and had evidently been crying. Livingstone, as he passed, caught her eye, and she gave him such a look of hate that it stung him to the quick.
“The little serpent!” thought he. “Here he was supporting her family, and she looking as if she could tear him to pieces! It showed how ungrateful this sort of people were.”
Livingstone walked up town. It would, he felt, do his head good. He needed exercise. He had been working rather too hard of late. However, he was worth—yes, all that!—Out in the snow the sum was before him in cold facsimile.
He had not gone far before he wished he had ridden. The street was thronged with people: some streaming along; others stopping in front of the big shop-windows, blocking the way and forcing such as were in a hurry to get off the sidewalk. The shop-windows were all brilliantly dressed and lighted. Every conception of fertile brains was there to arrest the attention and delight the imagination. And the interest of the throngs outside and in testified the shopkeepers’ success.