So intently was she thinking of Charlie that she did not hear the patter of little feet in the hall without. Tired of staying by himself, and spying the open door, Willie hastened toward it, pausing a moment on the threshold as if to reconnoiter. Something in Anna’s attitude, as she lay with her long hair falling over the pillow, must have reminded him of Alice, for, with a cry of delight, he ran forward, and patting the white cheek with his soft baby hand, lisped out the word “Arn-tee, arn-tee,” making Anna start suddenly and gaze at him in wondering surprise.
“Who is he?” she said, drawing him to her at once and pressing a kiss upon his rosy face.
Pamelia told her what she knew of the stranger waiting in the reception-room, adding in conclusion: “I believe they said you did not want her, and Jim is to take her to the depot when it’s time. She’s very young and pretty, and looks so sorry, Jim told me.”
“Said I did not want her! How did they know?” and something of the Richards’ spirit flashed from Anna’s eyes. “The child is so beautiful, and he called me ‘Auntie,’ too! He must have an auntie somewhere. Little dear! how she must love him! Lift him up, Pamelia.”
“I must see his mother,” Anna said. “She must be above the ordinary waiting maids. Perhaps I should like her. At all events I will hear what she has to say. Show her up, Pamelia; but first smooth my hair a little and arrange my pillows.”
Pamelia complied with her request; then leaving Willie with Anna, she repaired to the reception-room, and arousing the sleeping Adah, said to her hurriedly:
“Please, miss, come quick; Miss Anna wants to see you. The little boy is up there with her.”
ANNA AND ADAH
For a moment Anna was inclined to think that Pamelia had made a mistake. That beautiful face, that refined, ladylike manner, did not suit well a waiting maid, and Anna’s doubts were increasing, when little Willie set her right by patting her cheek again, while he called out: “Mamma, arntee.”
The look of interest which Anna cast upon him emboldened Adah to say:
“Excuse him, Miss Richards; he must have mistaken you for a dear friend at home, whom he calls ‘Auntie,’ I’ll take him down; he troubles you.”
“No, no,” and Anna passed her arm around him. “I love children so much. I ought to have been a wife and mother, my brother says, instead of a useless old maid.”
Anna smiled faintly as she said this, while thoughts of Charlie Millbrook flashed across her mind. Adah was too much a stranger to disclaim against Anna’s calling herself old, so she paid no attention to the remark, but plunged at once into the matter which had brought her there. Presuming they would rather be alone, Pamelia had purposely left the room, meeting in the lower hall with Mrs. Richards and her daughter, who, in much affright, were searching for the recent occupants of the reception-room. Pamelia quieted them by saying: “The lady was in Miss Anna’s room.”