That was just what he ought to have meant, he knew.
The inquiry in Kitty’s big eyes became light. She sprang to her feet and with a little squeak of delight marched to the middle of the shop and taking her stand began to sweep the shelves with her dancing eyes.
Livingstone gave a nod to the shopkeeper and he drew back the curtains that protected the cases where the finer and more expensive goods were kept and began to open the boxes.
Kitty approached on tiptoe and watched him with breathless silence as though she were in a dream which a word might break.
Then when she had seen everything she turned back to Livingstone.
“Well!” she said slowly.
“Well, what do you say?” He too was beginning to feel a spell.
“Well, if I were a real, sure-’nough Santa Claus, I’d just get—everything in those cases.” The spread of her little arms took it all in.
“And what would you do with it?” asked Livingstone in the same low tone, fearful of breaking the reverie in which she stood wrapped.
He had never before in all his life been taken into partnership by a little girl, and deep down beneath his breast-pocket was a kindling glow which was warming him through and through.
“I’d carry that doll—to Jean, and that—to Sue, and that—to Mollie, and that—to Dee, and those skates to Johnny, and—that sled to Tom, and—that woolly lamb to little Billy, ’cause he loves squshy things.—And then—I’d take all the rest in my sleigh and I’d go to the hospital where the poor little children haven’t got any good papas and mammas like me to give them anything, and where Santa Claus can’t ever go, and I’d put something by the side of every bed—of every one, and, maybe, they’d think at first it was only a dream; but when they waked up wide they’d find Santa Claus had been there, sure enough!”
In her energy she was gesticulating with earnest hands that seemed to take each present and bear it to its destination, and she concluded with a little nod to Livingstone that seemed to recognize him as in sympathy with her, and to say, “Wouldn’t we if we only could?”
It seemed to Livingstone as though a casing of ice in which he had been enclosed had suddenly broken and he were bathed in warmth.
The millstone round his neck had suddenly dropped and he shot upward into the light.
The child was leading him into a new and vernal world. He wanted to take her in his arms and press her to his heart. The difference between the glance she now gave him and that she had shot at him at the door of his office that evening came to him and decided him. It was worth it all.
“Yes. Is there anything else you wish?” he asked, hoping that there might be, for she had not mentioned herself.
“Yes, but it’s not anything Santa Claus can give,” she said calmly; “I have asked God for it.”