MAIDA’S LITTLE SHOP
The next two weeks were the busiest Maida ever knew.
In the first place she must see Mrs. Murdock and talk things over. In the second place, she must examine all the stock that Mrs. Murdock left. In the third place, she must order new stock from the wholesale places. And in the fourth place, the rooms must be made ready for her and Granny to live in. It was hard work, but it was great fun.
First, Mrs. Murdock called, at Billy’s request, at his rooms on Mount Vernon Street. Granny and Maida were there to meet her.
Mrs. Murdock was a tall, thin, erect old lady. Her bright black eyes were piercing enough, but it seemed to Maida that the round-glassed spectacles, through which she examined them all, were even more so.
“I’ve made out a list of things for the shop that I’m all out of,” she began briskly. “You’ll know what the rest is from what’s left on the shelves. Now about buying—there’s a wagon comes round once a month and I’ve told them to keep right on a-coming even though I ain’t there. They’ll sell you your candy, pickles, pickled limes and all sich stuff. You’ll have to buy your toys in Boston—your paper, pens, pencils, rubbers and the like also, but not at the same places where you git the toys. I’ve put all the addresses down on the list. I don’t see how you can make any mistakes.”
“How long will it take you to get out of the shop?” Billy asked.
Maida knew that Billy enjoyed Mrs. Murdock, for often, when he looked at that lady, his eyes “skrinkled up,” although there was not a smile on his face.
“A week is all I need,” Mrs. Murdock declared. “If it worn’t for other folks who are keeping me waiting, I’d have that hull place fixed as clean as a whistle in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Now I’ll put a price on everything, so’s you won’t be bothered what to charge. There’s some things I don’t ever git, because folks buy too many of them and it’s sich an everlasting bother keeping them in stock. But you’re young and spry, and maybe you won’t mind jumping about for every Tom, Dick and Harry. But, remember,” she added in parting, “don’t git expensive things. Folks in that neighborhood ain’t got no money to fool away. Git as many things as you can for a cent a-piece. Git some for five and less for ten and nothing for over a quarter. But you must allus callulate to buy some things to lose money on. I mean the truck you put in the window jess to make folks look in. It gits dusty and fly-specked before you know it and there’s an end on it. I allus send them to the Home for Little Wanderers at Christmas time.”
Early one morning, a week later, a party of three—Granny Flynn, Billy and Maida—walked up Beacon Street and across the common to the subway. Maida had never walked so far in her life. But her father had told her that if she wanted to keep the shop, she must give up her carriage and her automobile. That was not hard. She was willing to give up anything that she owned for the little shop.