It had rained all that night, but the second morning dawned the twinklingest kind of day. It seemed to Maida that Mother Nature had washed a million tiny, fleecy, white clouds and hung them out to dry in the crisp blue air. Everything still dripped but the brilliant sunshine put a sparkle on the whole world. Slates of old roofs glistened, brasses of old doors glittered, silver of old name-plates shone. Curbstones, sidewalks, doorsteps glimmered and gleamed. The wet, ebony-black trunks of the maples smoked as if they were afire, their thick-leaved, golden heads flared like burning torches. Maida stood for a long time at the window listening to a parrot who called at intervals from somewhere in the neighborhood. “Get up, you sleepy-heads! Get up! Get up!”
A huge puddle stretched across Primrose Court. When Maida took her place in the swivel-chair, three children had begun already to float shingles across its muddy expanse. Two of them were Molly and Tim Doyle, the third a little girl whom Maida did not know. For a time she watched them, fascinated. But, presently, the school children crowding into the shop took all her attention. After the bell rang and the neighborhood had become quiet again, she resumed her watch of the mud-puddle fun.
Now they were loading their shingles with leaves, twigs, pebbles, anything that they could find in the gutters. By lashing the water into waves, as they trotted in the wake of their frail craft, they managed to sail them from one end of the puddle to the other. Maida followed the progress of these merchant vessels as breathlessly as their owners. Some capsized utterly. Others started to founder and had to be dragged ashore. A few brought the cruise to a triumphant finish.
But Tim soon put an end to this fun. Unexpectedly, his foot caught somewhere and he sprawled headlong in the tide. “Oh, Tim!” Molly said. But she said it without surprise or anger. And Tim lay flat on his stomach without moving, as if it were a common occurrence with him. Molly waded out to him, picked him up and marched him into the house.
The other little girl had disappeared. Suddenly she came out of one of the yards, clasping a Teddy-bear and a whole family of dolls in her fat arms. She sat down at the puddle’s edge and began to undress them. Maida idly watched the busy little fingers—one, two, three, four, five—now there were six shivering babies. What was she going to do with them? Maida wondered.
“Granny,” Maida called, “do come and see this little girl! She’s—” But Maida did not finish that sentence in words. It ended in a scream. For suddenly the little girl threw the Teddy-bear and all the six dolls into the puddle. Maida ran out the door. Half-way across the court she met Dicky Dore swinging through the water. Between them they fished all the dolls out. One was of celluloid and another of rubber—they