Pirlaps saw a look of doubt and reluctance in Sara’s eyes as he was about to consign the Baby to Yassuh’s sticky care. So he handed the Baby back to Sara and darted into a store near by where he got some clean wrapping-paper. He then rolled the Baby, in its nice white dress, up in the paper, taking care to leave its nose out, so it could breathe. Then he handed it over to Yassuh, and Sara felt quite comfortable and contented. “Keep out of the sun,” he called back to Yassuh, “and mind you don’t melt!”
The next thing, Avrillia said, was to stop in a drug store. They found one quite readily, and Sara watched with astonished eyes while Avrillia purchased a very large stock of drugs. Even a fairy drug store is a disagreeable place to a child with a past like Sara’s, and if this one had not had a show-case full of candies for her to look at she would have been exceedingly restless. But the bonbons were charming—of all shapes and colors, and almost as large as a pinhead.
Sara was really suffering from curiosity to know what Avrillia was going to do with the medicines, but she had already asked so many questions that she thought she would try to be very polite, and wait. Waiting was made easier by the fact that the poorer quarter of the city, through which they were now walking, was very queer and interesting. It was like most such places, but Sara had not seen many, and she was fascinated by the babies tumbling about on the sidewalk, and the clothes-lines on the upstairs porches with clothes drying on them. Once a goat in an alley looked up and spoke to her—but she did not understand what he said. His mouth was full; for he was eating a tin can that looked strangely like Sara’s old thimble.
Presently they stopped before a mean-looking house and Avrillia knocked. Now, you often hear that word applied to quite innocent houses that are only plain and poor; but this one really was mean-looking. And Sara noticed with wonder that there was a red flag over the door.
A disagreeable-looking woman with watery eyes and her handkerchief to her nose opened the door; and then, at the sound of Avrillia’s voice, there swarmed out from the rooms on both sides of the hall a crowd of the most unattractive children! They fairly mobbed Avrillia, all talking at once and snatching at the bottles which they could see sticking out of Avrillia’s basket. They had the reddest faces Sara had ever seen, and no manners at all; for without even asking permission they began to drink out of the bottles, quarreling among themselves into the bargain.
Sara drew as far away from them as she could; and while Avrillia was talking kindly to the woman and the children (who didn’t listen to her), and also to an old man who sat hunched over a stove in the corner, she whispered to Pirlaps, “Who are they?”
“Why, the Measles, of course,” said Pirlaps. “I told you we were coming to see them! They live with their mother, Mrs. Sneeze, and their grandfather, Old Man Cough. Avrillia thinks she can help them, but they’re a shiftless lot. Haven’t a particle of get-up-and-go! Always waiting for somebody to take ’em!”