But it was useless to stamp so loud and clench his fists. There was no one to hear him and there was no one to see him. Neither was there any satisfaction in knocking over a chair. The outlook was utterly hopeless. There didn’t seem to be any good way of being bad.
Presently, though, David had an inspiration. He would get hold of the picture the Doctor had talked about so foolishly. David would get it and have a look at it. Surely that would be very naughty indeed. David was confident of that, for the Doctor had been so extremely nice in handling the little miniature.
Only there was one great difficulty which stood in the way of this famous campaign of badness. David encountered this difficulty when he had dragged a chair in front of the high desk. Even by standing on the chair he was not tall enough to reach the picture; even by standing tippy-toe he could not reach it. There was left but the one alternative—he must jump for it, but when he did that he knocked it off. It fell with a loud clack to the floor and broke in two.
Then terror seized the heart of David. He did not mean to break the lady; honestly he did not, and now—oh, oh!—what was to be done? The little boy did not have much time to think about it. He heard a heavy tread on the stairs and knew the Doctor was coming.
Perhaps it would do to say that the picture had fallen off itself and got broken, or maybe it would be better to say that the fairies had done it, or maybe—
Now, at last, David knew the thing to do, and did it. When the Doctor came into the room the little boy was sweetly but not serenely in his place. He was sitting upright in his chair, as though he had not stirred a hair’s breadth during the man’s absence, but in the eyes of David was a feverish lustre, and the little body of him was all of a tremble.
“I didn’t understand about the crying,” Dr. Redfield announced, and he was very humble. It did not seem odd to him that he should come to confessional before this little boy. He believed that he had judged too hastily, and he was come to make it right. “Maybe you were lonesome,” he said. “Maybe you wanted Mother.”
David said nothing, and the Doctor went on with that wistful tenderness which comes to us when we feel we have not been just with those we love.
“You do like me, don’t you, David?”
But the little boy could not answer; he was crying so.
THE NIP OF GUILT
Little David was not well; little David was hot and red.
After he had been gently laid in the crib he turned restlessly, and from time to time a gasping sob shook his whole body, for he had cried himself to sleep. He had fallen into a fitful slumber while in the Doctor’s buggy, and had not awakened when carried into the house.
“A little feverish,” said Mother, as she pressed her cool hand upon his forehead.