At length, Livingstone’s sense of injury became so strong, he could stand it no longer. He determined to have a talk with Clark.
He opened the door and walked into the outer office. One of the younger clerks was just buttoning up his overcoat. Livingstone detected a scowl on his face. The sight did not improve Livingstone’s temper. He would have liked to discharge the boy on the spot. How often had he ever called on them to wait? He knew men who required their clerks to wait always until they themselves left the office, no matter what the hour was. He himself would not do this; he regarded it as selfish. But now when it had happened by accident, this was the return he received!
He contented himself with asking somewhat sharply where Mr. Clark was.
“Believe he’s gone to the telephone,” said the clerk, sulkily. He picked up his hat and said good-night hurriedly. He was evidently glad to get off.
Livingstone returned to his own room; but left the door ajar so that he could see Clark when he returned. When, however, a few moments afterwards Clark appeared Livingstone had cooled down. Why should he expect gratitude? He did not pay Clark for gratitude, but for work, and this the clerk did faithfully. It was an ungrateful world, anyhow.
At that moment there was a light knock at the outer door, and, on Clark’s bidding, some one entered.
Livingstone, from where he sat, could see the door reflected in a mirror that hung in his office.
The visitor was a little girl. She was clad in a red jacket, and on her head was a red cap, from under which her hair pushed in a profusion of ringlets. Her cheeks were like apples, and her whole face was glowing from the frosty air. It was just her head that Livingstone saw first, as she poked it in and peeped around. Then, as Mr. Clark sat with his back to the door and she saw that no one else was present, the visitor inserted her whole body and, closing the door softly, with her eyes dancing and her little mouth puckered up in a mischievous way, she came on tiptoe across the floor, stealing towards Clark until she was within a few feet of him, when with a sudden little rush she threw her arms about his head and clapped her hands quickly over his eyes:
“Guess who it is?” she cried.
Livingstone could hear them through the open door.
“Blue Beard,” hazarded Mr. Clark.
“Mary, Queen of Scots?—I know it’s a queen.”
“No. Now you are not guessing—It isn’t any queen, at all.”
“Yes, I am—Oh! I know—Santa Claus.”
“No; but somebody ’at knows about him.”
Livingstone was not sure that he caught the name.
“No!!” in a very emphatic voice and with a sudden stiffening and a vehement shake of the head.
Livingstone knew now whose name it was.