It required not this remark from her to satisfy the beholder of her inability to proceed, for extreme fatigue and exhaustion were visible in her every motion.
She approached the door of a handsome dwelling situated in the central portion of the village, and rang the bell. The door was opened by an elderly-looking man, who accosted her civilly and seemed waiting for her to make known her errand.
In a low and timid voice the woman asked him if he would allow herself and child to rest for the night beneath his roof?
He replied, in a voice that was decidedly gruff and crusty,—
“There are two hotels in the village; we keep no travellers here,” and immediately closed the door in her face.
Could he have seen the forlorn expression that settled on her countenance when, on regaining the street, she took her little boy by the hand and again walked slowly onward—his heart must indeed have been hard if he had not repented of his unkindness.
After walking a short distance further, the woman paused before a house of much humbler appearance than the former one, and, encouraged by the motherly appearance of an elderly lady who sat knitting at her open door in the lingering twilight, she drew nigh to her, and asked if she would shelter herself and child for the night.
The old lady regarded her earnestly for a moment; she seemed, however, to be impressed favorably by her appearance, for her voice was very pleasant, as she replied to her request,—
“Certainly you can remain for the night, for I have never yet denied so small a favor (as a shelter for the night) to any one who sought it. Come in at once, and I will endeavor to make you and your little boy comfortable, for you look very much fatigued.”
The woman gladly followed the kind old lady into the house, and seated herself in the comfortable rocking chair which she had kindly placed for her; she also placed a seat for the child, but he refused to leave his mother’s side, and stood leaning upon the arm of her chair. The old lady soon after left the room saying, as she did so, that she would soon bring them some refreshment, of which they evidently stood much in need.
Mr. Humphrey, the husband of the old lady, soon came in, and his wife said a few words to him in a low voice in the adjoining room; a kind expression was upon his countenance when he entered the room where were the strangers. He coaxed the little boy to come and sit upon his knee, by the offer of a large red-cheeked apple which he took from his pocket. He stroked his brown curls and asked him to tell him his name.
“Ernest Harwood,” replied the boy.
Mr. Humphrey told him he thought it a very nice name, and also that he thought him a very fine little boy. The little fellow blushed, and hid his face at the praise thus bestowed upon him.