His shop looked as though it had been struck by a whirlwind. The floor and counters were covered with boxes and bundles, and he and Livingstone packed the big sleigh as full as it would hold, leaving only one seat deep in the furs amid the heaped up parcels. Then suddenly from somewhere Mr. Brown produced a great, shaggy cape with a hood, and Livingstone threw it around Kitty and getting in lifted her into the little nest between the furs.
Kitty’s eyes were dancing and her breath was coming quickly with excitement.
It was a supreme moment.
“Where are we going, Mr. Livingstone?” she whispered. She was afraid to speak aloud lest she might break the spell and awake.
“Just where you like.”
“To the Children’s Hospital,” she panted.
“To the Children’s Hospital, driver,” repeated Livingstone.
Kitty gave another gasp.
“We’ll play you’re Santa Claus,” she said, in a voice of low delight.
“No. Play you are Santa Claus’s partner,” said Livingstone.
“You are not to say anything about me.”
Livingstone had not had such a drive in years. The little form snuggled against him closer and closer and the warm half sentences of childish prattle, as the little girl’s imagination wove its fancies, came to him from amid the furs and made him feel as though he had left the earth and were driving in a new world. It was like a dream. Had youth come back? Was it possible?
The sleigh stopped in front of a great long building.
“You have to ring at the side door at night,” said the driver. He appeared to know a good deal about the hospital.
Livingstone sprang out and rang the bell and then stepped back.
“When they open the door, you are to do all the talking,” he said to Kitty as he lifted her down.
“Who shall I say rang?” she asked.
“Santa Claus’s partner.”
“No. You are not to mention my name. Remember!”
Before the child could reply the door opened a little way and a porter looked out.
“Who’s there?” he called to the sleigh, rather overlooking the little figure in the snow.
“Santa Claus’s partner,” said Kitty.
“What do you want?” He peered out at the sleigh. He was evidently sleepy and a little puzzled. “We don’t take in anything at this hour except patients.” He looked as if he were about to shut the door when a woman’s voice was heard within speaking to him and the next moment the door was opened wide and he gave way as a matronly figure came forward and stood in the archway.
“Who is it?” she asked in a very pleasant voice, looking down at the little figure in the snow before her.
“Santa Claus’s partner,” said Kitty, gazing up at her.
“What do you want, dear?” The voice was even pleasanter.