“Your mother’ll come back,” Maida said.
CHAPTER XIV: CHRISTMAS HAPPENINGS
Maida was awakened early Christmas morning by a long, wild peal of the bell. Before she could collect her scattered wits, she heard Rosie’s voice, “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas! Oh, Granny, won’t you please let me run upstairs and wake Maida? I’ve got something dreadfully important to tell her.”
Maida heard Granny’s bewildered “All roight, child,” heard Rosie’s rush through the living-room and then she bounded out of bed, prickling all over with excitement.
“Maida,” Rosie called from the stairs, “wake up! I’ve something wonderful to tell you.”
But Maida had guessed it.
“I know,” she cried, as Rosie burst into the room. “Your mother’s come home.”
“My mother’s come home,” Rosie echoed.
The two little girls seized each other and hopped around the room in a mad dance, Maida chanting in a deep sing-song, “Your mother’s come home!” and Rosie screaming at the top of her lungs, “My mother’s come home!” After a few moments of this, they sank exhausted on the bed.
“Tell me all about it,” Maida gasped. “Begin at the very beginning and don’t leave anything out.”
“Well, then,” Rosie began, “I will. When I went to bed last night after leaving you, I got to thinking of my mother and pretty soon I was so sad that I nearly cried my eyes out. Well, after a long while I got to sleep and I guess I must have been very tired, for I didn’t wake up the way I do generally of my own accord. Aunt Theresa had to wake me. She put on my best dress and did my hair this new way and even let me put cologne on. I couldn’t think why, because I never dress up until afternoons. Once when I looked at her, I saw there were tears in her eyes and, oh, Maida, it made me feel something awful, for I thought she was going to tell me that my mother was dead. When I came downstairs, my father hugged me and kissed me and sat with me while I ate my breakfast. Oh, I was so afraid he was going to tell me that mother was dead! But he didn’t! After awhile, he said, ’Your Christmas presents are all up in your mother’s bedroom, Rosie.’ So I skipped up there. My father and Aunt Theresa didn’t come with me, but I noticed they stood downstairs and listened. I opened the door.”
Rosie stopped for breath.
“Go on,” Maida entreated; “oh, do hurry.”
“Well, there, lying on the bed was my mother. Maida, I felt so queer that I couldn’t move. My feet wouldn’t walk—–just like in a dream. My mother said, ‘Come here, my precious little girl,’ but it sounded as if it came from way, way, way off. And Maida then I could move. I ran across the room and hugged her and kissed her until I couldn’t breathe. Then she said, ’I have a beautiful Christmas gift for you, little daughter,’ and she pulled something over towards me that lay, all wrapped up, in a shawl on the bed. What do you think it was?”