‘Children get ill and die too sometimes,’ Alie went on, ’and big people very often get better. There was Captain Leonard next door to us at home——’
‘And—I know—the boy-that-brought-the-potatoes’ papa,’ cried Biddy. ’I am so glad I thought of him. I was in the kitchen one morning fetching sand for Tweetums’s cage and he came in, and cook asked how was his papa, and he said, “Finely better, I thank ye, mum.” I think cook said he was a Hirish boy,’ Bridget hurried on in her excitement—and when she was excited I am afraid her ‘h’s’ were apt to suffer—Mrs. Vane gasped! ’I am so glad I thought of him. Papa will get better like the potato boy’s father. I’ll say it in my prayers. Dear mamma, I won’t forget. And I will try to be good and not tear my frocks nor speak without thinking.’
The tears were coming now, but Biddy knew mamma did not like her to begin to cry, and truly it was no wonder, for once she began it was by no means easy to say when she would leave off! She choked them down as well as she could. And the little face, hot and flushed now, was timidly raised to her mother’s for a kiss of forgiveness.
It was not refused, but a sigh accompanied it, which went to the child’s heart. But there was no time for more, as at that moment the hall door was heard to open and Mr. Vane’s and Rough’s voices sounded outside.
Quite subdued, desperately penitent, Bridget went back to her place. Her head was full as well as her heart. She had so many things to think over that she felt as if she could not eat. First and foremost was the strange newly awakened anxiety about her father. She looked at him as he came in as she had never looked at him before, almost expecting to see some great and appalling change in his appearance. But no—he seemed much as usual—his face was indeed reddened a little by his brisk walk in the chill air, and his voice was as cheery as ever. Biddy gave a loud, most audible sigh of relief. Mr. Vane started and interrupted himself in the middle of a lively account of the adventures he and Randolph had met with in their walk.
‘My dear Biddy,’ he said. ’What can you have to sigh about in that appalling way?’
Bridget opened her mouth as if to speak, but Rosalys, trembling as to what she might not be going to say, interrupted.
‘Please, papa, don’t ask her just now,’ she said; ’do go on telling us about what sort of a place Seacove is,’ and she added in a whisper, as she gave a little private tug to his sleeve, ’Biddy’s been rather—tiresome, and if she begins to cry——’
BIDDY HAS SOME NEW THOUGHTS
‘O, children take long
Mr. Vane nodded in token of comprehending Alie’s hint.
‘You must walk to Seacove to-morrow and see it for yourselves,’ he said.