P.S. The name means, WE MUST NEVER TELL.
Maida dreamed nothing but happy dreams that night.
CHAPTER VIII: A RAINY DAY
The next day it rained dismally. Maida had been running the shop for three weeks but this was her first experience with stormy weather. Because she, herself, had never been allowed to set her foot outdoors when the weather was damp, she expected that she would see no children that day. But long before the bell rang they crowded in wet streaming groups into the shop. And at nine the lines disappearing into the big school doorways seemed as long as ever.
Even the Clark twins in rubber boots, long rain-capes and a baby umbrella came in to spend their daily pennies.
“I guess it’ll be one session, Maida,” Dorothy whispered.
“Oh goody, Dorothy!” Mabel lisped. “Don’t you love one session, Maida?”
Maida was ashamed to confess to two such tiny girls that she did not know what “one session” meant. But she puzzled over it the whole morning. If Rosie and Arthur had come in she would have asked them. But neither of them appeared. Indeed, they were not anywhere in the lines—Maida looked very carefully.
At twelve o’clock the school bell did not ring. In surprise, Maida craned out of the window to consult the big church clock. It agreed exactly with the tall grandfather’s clock in the living-room. Both pointed to twelve, then to five minutes after and ten and fifteen—still no bell.
A little later Dicky came swinging along, the sides of his old rusty raincoat flapping like the wings of some great bird.
“It’s one-session, Maida,” he said jubilantly, “did you hear the bell?”
“What’s one session, Dicky?” Maida asked.
“Why, when it’s too stormy for the children to go to school in the afternoon the fire-bells ring twenty-two at quarter to twelve. They keep all the classes in until one o’clock though.”
“Oh, that’s why they don’t come out,” Maida said.
At one o’clock the umbrellas began to file out of the school door. The street looked as if it had grown a monster crop of shiny black toad-stools. But it was the only sign of life that the neighborhood showed for the rest of the day. The storm was too violent for even the big boys and girls to brave. A very long afternoon went by. Not a customer came into the shop. Maida felt very lonely. She wandered from shop to living-room and from living-room to chamber. She tried to read. She sewed a little. She even popped corn for a lonesome fifteen minutes. But it seemed as if the long dark day would never go.
As they were sitting down to dinner that night, Billy bounced in—his face pink and wet, his eyes sparkling like diamonds from his conflict with the winds.
“Oh, Billy, how glad I am to see you,” Maida said. “It’s been the lonesomest day.”