The Doctor said nothing, but in his eyes, as he bent over the little boy, there was something sinister. It was his fighting face, and it was saying to David:
“You shall not be sick, little boy. I won’t have it.”
All the weariness of the man was gone; all his dreary discouragement was gone. He stood erect, a soldier ready to do battle against disease which for these past weeks had been choking out the life of little children.
As the Doctor hurried away he was upbraiding himself for having been absent from his patients not less than three whole hours. Gross negligence, this! He had no right to play so long with David, and now he would not take the time to tell Miss Eastman of all the great things they had been doing.
But indeed no words of explanation were required to tell her of one thing that had been done. Without any assistance she soon discovered a substantial reason why her little boy was so restless, and this reason proved to be a miniature. She found the two pieces of it hid away in his blouse at the very place where they would be most uncomfortable to lie upon. But even after she had relieved David of this source of trouble, he still turned and tossed and talked in his sleep.
She could not understand what he was saying, but the face painted on porcelain seemed easily understood. How, Miss Eastman asked herself, had he come by that picture? Who had given it to her little boy, and what had he been told about the beautiful face?
An impulse had suddenly come upon the woman to hide it away, or better yet, to destroy it utterly. But there was no time for that. As if from an electric shock, David had flounced over on his side, and now he sprung bolt upright. Confused emotions struggled in his face; his hands searched his blouse, and as they failed to find what they were searching for, there came such a look of terror into his eyes that Mother instantly produced the miniature.
“Who is it, dear?” she asked.
With the same sort of agility which had come to him when he had heard the Doctor’s footstep on the stair, David seized the pieces of porcelain, and with fumbling eagerness he slipped them back into his blouse.
“It’s mine!” he called out. He scowled fiercely, as though expecting some one to dispute his claim.
“Where did you get it?”
“Up there,” he said.
Again the little boy was silent, but Mother insisted on more definite information. Three times she asked how he had come into possession of the picture before he would speak again. When he did so he scowled more heavily than at first, and exclaimed:
“I won’t not tell you!”
“But why, David; why not tell Mother about it?”
The child evaded a direct reply.
“Doctor will be mad at me,” he said.
“Did he give it to you?”
The little boy nodded.