Mrs. Curtis still waited for Madge to speak.
“Uncle and Aunt——” she faltered. “They—would miss me——”
“Yes, I know,” returned Mrs. Curtis sympathetically. “Of course, your own people will find it hard to give you up just at first, and Eleanor will miss you. But I do not believe your uncle and aunt will stand in your way if you really wish to come to me.”
Mrs. Curtis concluded in the tone of a woman accustomed to having her own way. She was puzzled at Madge’s indecision.
“Are you sure you care for me enough to wish me to live with you, Mrs. Curtis?” asked Madge quietly. “You see, you know only the nicest part of me, but I have a miserable temper. Nellie and my friends are used to me. Suppose you should take me away to live with you, and then grow tired of me?” The girl’s clear eyes questioned her new friend gravely.
Mrs. Curtis smiled and shook her head. “No; I shouldn’t grow tired of you. People may sometimes grow vexed with you, but they are not going to become tired of you. Now sit quite still. I want you not to speak, but to think very hard for three minutes and then to tell me whether you wish to be my adopted daughter. I do not wish to trouble your uncle and aunt unless you feel sure of yourself.”
Mrs. Curtis took out her watch and laid it in her lap.
She did not look at the watch; she kept her gaze on Madge’s face.
The little captain did not speak. She knew her eyes were filled with tears. She was so young, and it was hard to decide her whole future life in the space of three minutes. She realized that if Mrs. Curtis adopted her, she would have to give up her gay, independent existence among her old friends, the joy of doing for herself and of learning to overcome obstacles. Then, on the other hand, Mrs. Curtis loved her and she would give her everything in the world that a young girl could desire.
“Mrs. Curtis,” declared Madge, when the three minutes had gone by, “I can’t—I can’t decide what you ask me now. Please don’t think I do not love you. It is too wonderful for you and Tom to wish me to come to live with you. But may I have a few days to think things over before I give you my answer? The thought of leaving Aunt Sue and Uncle William and Nellie does—does——” Madge could not go on.
“Never mind, dear,” soothed Mrs. Curtis. “It was not fair in me to take you unawares, and then expect you to make up your mind so soon. Suppose I give you three days, instead of three minutes, to think things over. Even then, Madge, we can’t be sure that your uncle and aunt will be willing to let you be my girl instead of theirs.”
MOLLIE’S BRAVE FIGHT
Mollie was sitting alone on the deck of the houseboat. She and Miss Jenny had just finished an early tea. The girls were still away at their dinner, and Miss Jenny Ann had gone up to the nearest farmhouse to get some eggs for breakfast. It was the first time Mollie had ever been left by herself on the houseboat. But Miss Jenny Ann did not think there was any possible danger. Neither Captain Mike nor Bill had made the slightest attempt to get possession of Mollie. Nor did Miss Jones intend to be out of call for more than fifteen minutes.