“As my maginary?”
“Yes, and I’ll tell you how to label them.”
The cats were caught and boxed, and this was the label their cage bore on the second and last evening of the “Helping Hand Sale:” “Destroyers of the Distant Cousin of the White Elephant of Siam.” This device took, and many pennies were put by the neighbors into Charlie’s hands. When the boys summed up the profits of the sale, they had for Tim Tyler’s benefit the sum of thirty dollars, which Mr. Walton promised should be judiciously expended.
“It all shows,” remarked Miss Barry to the club, “what we can do when we work in earnest, and also how much small sums amount to.”
Simes Badger’s comment on the affair was that Aunt Stanshy had shown herself a Christian, “knowin’ as I do,” said Simes, “the story of the Tyler affair way back.”
Mr. Walton and his old mother had something also to say about the sale, and it was in connection with one of Tony’s Italian pictures that Mr. Walton bought.
“A house, mother, in Naples, not far from the water, you see.”
The old lady was silent awhile. Then she murmured, “I have seen it, haven’t you, somewhere?”
“Why, yes—no. What is it?”
But the old lady herself was confused about it. She looked at the fair home by the sea, and then looked again, but she could not seem to positively identify it.
“And still I have seen it before,” she affirmed.
To identify the spot was like trying to get hold of the exact form of a ship that partially breaks through the fog and then recedes, ever coming yet ever vanishing.
“There goes a man drunk, Aunt Stanshy.”
Aunt Stanshy said nothing, but continued to thump away on her ironing-board.
“He is going down the lane, aunty.”
Aunt Stanshy heard Charlie, but she said nothing, only ironing away steadily as ever. Charlie heard her sigh once, or thought he did.
“Did you speak, aunty?”
“Me, child? Why, no!”
Charlie continued to look out of the window that fronted the narrow lane. The drunken man was not a very attractive object. Then it was a dark, lowery, and rainy day in the latter part of November. The streets were muddy, fences damp and clammy to the touch. Over the river hung a gray, cheerless fog. To such a day a staggering drunkard could not be said to contribute a cheering feature, and it was no wonder that Aunt Stanshy cared little to see him. Soon after this, Charlie went out into the barn. It had a deserted look, especially up in the chamber.
“No White Shields here now,” he said, mournfully.
That fastened window, too, the nail driven securely above the hook and staple, had a mournful look to Charlie’s soul. He remembered the story that Simes Badger had told him about this window and the closed door below.