“I never saw her,” said the child.
“No, David, we cannot see her, but if we keep our hearts open and our lives all sweet and clean, we can be sure she is not far away.”
The little boy had listened attentively, but he could not understand, and after careful examination of the picture, he presently asked:
“When is she coming back again?”
Dr. Redfield had nothing further to tell. He crossed the room, and hastily replaced the miniature upon the top of the high desk.
THE CRIME OF DAVID
It is not pleasant to be a criminal; it hurts. David knew he was one, and although he did not know what crime he had committed, he imagined that he was now being punished for it. The idea came to him on account of the way the Doctor was acting. The man had gently replaced the miniature upon the top of the desk, and afterward he stood motionless, sunk deep in revery. The little boy was trying to guess what he had done. It must be very, very wrong, or else Fav-ver Doctor wouldn’t be standing there like that. He would talk and take notice. David knew this was so, but, try as he might, he could not think what sin he was guilty of. It was a great puzzle, and, in truth, David was frequently puzzled in the same way. For the laws which grown-ups have for little boys are so much like any other kind of laws that it is hard to get any justice out of them.
Without knowing what it was, David keenly felt his disgrace. The glory of being in the Doctor’s house; the glory of sitting at table in an ordinary chair; the glory of a hair-cut, and even the glory of trouvers—each of these mighty events was now shorn of its charm. Everything had grown sadly commonplace; for there can be no satisfaction in achieving greatness, if one is so soon to be forgotten. So now, with the passing of every instant, things were growing more and more solemn.
Doubtless the chair on which David was sitting was partly to blame. It was such a slippery seat that if one didn’t hold on tight he would be sure to slide right off. There were stickery things in it, too, for the hair-cloth was getting all worn out.
The little boy sat politely on the stickery things and waited. If he waited long enough, maybe Fav-ver Doctor would smile at him as Mother always did. At the present time, though, one could hardly believe that there were ever any smiles in Fav-ver Doctor’s face—he was looking so hard and so long at nothing at all.
Everything in the room was feeling lonesome and guilty and bad; and worst of all was the clock. It was a big, upright, colonial clock, and its counting of time was done with deep and stately deliberation. If he would only strike the hour, that would help. David remembered with what dignity the clock could strike. The brazen reverberations of each stroke always lingered awhile before the next one came, and then, when all of them had been struck, and the last ringing beat had throbbed and swooned into a whisper, and died, one always felt that other strokes would follow. One looked for them, and waited for them, but they did not come. To-day nothing seemed to come but the regular, echoing, church-like tick-tock, and to-day there was no diversion of any kind; there was only a large, dark, depressing awesomeness.