“Who are your friends?” she asked. “What a pleasant-looking man, and what lovely children! That little girl,—I thought it was Cupid when she had the bandage on her eyes and now I am sure of it.”
“Let me present them to you,” said Livingstone, and he presented Mr. Clark as his partner and Kitty as Santa Claus’s partner.
“I did not know you had a partner?” she asked.
“It is my Christmas gift from Santa Claus,” he said. “One of them; I have many.”
When Livingstone walked into Mrs. Wright’s drawing-room that evening he had never had such a greeting, and he had never been in such spirits. His own Christmas dinner had been the success of his life. He could still see those happy faces about his board, and hear those joyous voices echoing through his house.
The day seemed to have been one long dream of delight. From the moment when he had turned to go after the little child to ask her to show him the way to help others, he had walked in a new land; lived in a new world; breathed a new air; been warmed by a new sun.
Wright himself met him with a cordiality so new to Livingstone and yet so natural and unforced that Livingstone wondered whether he could have been living in a dream all these years or whether he was in a dream to-night.
Among the guests he suddenly came on one who made him think to-night must be the dream.
Mrs. Wright, with glowing eyes, presented him to a lady dressed in black, as “an old friend, she believed:” a fair, sweet-looking woman with soft eyes and a calm mouth.
The name Mrs. Wright mentioned was “Mrs. Shepherd,” but as Livingstone looked the face was that of Catherine Trelane.
The evening was a fitting ending to a happy day—the first Livingstone had had in many a year. Even Mrs. Shepherd’s failure to give him the opportunity he sought to talk with her could not wholly mar it.
Later, Livingstone heard Mrs. Wright begin to tell some one of his act of the night before, in buying up a toy-shop for the children at the hospital.
“I always believed in him,” she asserted warmly.
Livingstone caught his name and, turning to Mrs. Wright, with some embarrassment and much warmth, declared that she was mistaken, that he had not done it.
Mrs. Wright laughed incredulously.
“I suspected it this morning when I first heard of it; but now I have the indisputable proof.”
She held up a note.
“‘I think I’ve heard of you before,’” she laughed, with a capital imitation of Mr. Brown’s manner.
“I still deny it,” insisted Livingstone, blushing, and as Mrs. Wright still affirmed her belief, he told her the story of Santa Claus’s partner.
Insensibly, as he told it, the other voices hushed down.
He told it well; for his heart was full of the little girl who had led him from the frozen land back to the land of light.