“I’m here wid a boomp,” said Peter. Then after receiving the consolation of a hug and kiss he returned contentedly to his block house.
Emilie saw her father look after the child with a smile sad and tender. Her heart beat faster as she lay in her corner. Her father was lonely and hard worked, with no one to take pity on him. A veil seemed to drop from her eyes, even while they grew wet.
“I don’t believe I’m too old to change, even if I am going on nine,” thought Emilie. At that minute the block house fell in ruins, and Peter, self-controlled though he was, looked toward the desk and began to whimper.
“Peter—Baby,” cried Emilie softly, leaning forward and holding out the picture of a horse in her book.
Her father had turned with an involuntary sigh, and seeing Peter trot toward the sofa and Emilie receive him with open arms, went back to his papers with a relief that his little daughter saw. Her breath came fast and she hugged the baby. Something caught in her throat.
“Oh, papa, you don’t know how many, many times I’m going to do it,” she said in the silence of her own full heart.
And Emilie kept that unspoken promise.
THE GOLDEN DOG
“I think, after all, the ravine is the nicest place for stories,” said Jewel the next day.
The sun had dried the soaked grass, and not only did the leaves look freshly polished from their bath, but the swollen brook seemed to be turning joyous little somersaults over its stones when Mrs. Evringham, Jewel, and Anna Belle scrambled down to its bank.
“I don’t know that we ought to read a story every day,” remarked Mrs. Evringham. “They won’t last long at this rate.”
“When we finish we’ll begin and read them all over again,” returned Jewel promptly.
“Oh, that’s your plan, is it?” said Mrs. Evringham, laughing.
Jewel laughed too, for sheer happiness, though she saw nothing amusing about such an obviously good plan. “Aren’t we getting well acquainted, mother?” she asked, nestling close to her mother’s side and forgetting Anna Belle, who at once lurched over, head downward, on the grass. “Do you remember what a little time you used to have to hold me in your lap and hug me?”
“Yes, dearie. Divine Love is giving me so many blessings these days I only pray to bear them well,” replied Mrs. Evringham.
“Why, I think it’s just as easy to bear blessings, mother,” began Jewel, and then she noticed her child’s plight. “Darling Anna Belle, what are you doing!” she exclaimed, picking up the doll and brushing her dress. “I shouldn’t think you had any more backbone than an error-fairy! Now don’t look sorry, dearie, because to-day it’s your turn to choose the story.”
Anna Belle, her eyes beaming from among her tumbled curls, at once turned happy and expectant, and when her hat had been straightened and her boa removed so that her necklace could gleam resplendently about her fair, round throat, she was seated against a tree-trunk and listened with all her ears to the titles Mrs. Evringham offered.