“What are the ages of your children?”
“I have no children,” said Livingstone, thinking how clever he was to be so ready with an answer.
“I know.—But I mean the children you want the toys for?”
Livingstone felt for his handkerchief. The perspiration was beginning to come on his brow.
“Why,—ah—the same ages as your brothers and sisters—about,” he said desperately, feeling that he was at the end of his resources and would be discovered by the next question.
“We will go to Brown’s,” said the child quietly, and, dropping her eyes, she settled herself back in the furs as though the problem were definitely solved.
Livingstone glanced at the little figure beside him, hoping she would indicate where “Brown’s” was, but she did not. Every one must know “Brown’s.”
The only “Brown” Livingstone knew was the great banker, and a grim smile flickered on his cheek at the thought of the toys in which that Brown dealt. He shifted the responsibility to the driver.
“Driver, go to Brown’s. You know where it is?”
“Well, no, sir, I don’t believe I do. Which Brown do you mean, sir?”
“Why—ah—the toy-man’s, of course.”
The driver stopped his horses and reflected. He shook his head slowly. Livingstone, however, was now equal to the emergency. Besides, there was nothing else to do. He turned to his companion.
“Where is it?” he began boldly, but as he saw the look of surprise in the little girl’s face he added, “I mean—exactly?”
“Why, right across from the grocer’s with the parrot and the little white woolly dog.”
She spoke with astonishment that any one should not know so important a personage. And Livingstone, too, was suddenly conscious of the importance of this information. Clearly he had neglected certain valuable branches of knowledge.
Happily, the driver came to his rescue.
“Where is that, Miss?” he asked.
“You go to the right and keep going to the right all the way,” she said definitely.
Livingstone was in despair; but the driver appeared to understand now.
“You tell me when I go wrong,” he said, and drove on.
He must have children at home, thought Livingstone to himself as the sleigh after a number of turns drew up in front of one of the very windows Livingstone had passed that evening on the back street. He felt as though he would like to reward the driver. It was the first time Livingstone had thought of a driver in many years.
Just as they drove up the door of the shop was being closed, and the little girl gave an exclamation of disappointment.
“Oh, we are too late!” she cried.
Livingstone felt his heart jump into his throat. He sprang to the door and rapped. There was no answer. The light was evidently being turned off inside. Livingstone rapped again more impatiently. Another light was turned down. Livingstone was desperate. His loud knocking produced no impression, and he could have bought out the whole square!