“Was this David’s mother?” she asked.
As the man took up the two parts of the broken portrait he glanced apprehensively toward the top of his desk. The picture which used to stand there was gone.
“Where did you get this?” he questioned.
“As soon as they get into trousers they get into mischief,” she replied, and again she asked whether that was a picture of the little boy’s mother.
With gentle fingers Dr. Redfield fitted the parts of the picture together, sorrowfully shook his head over them, and then, as a wan smile creased his tired face, he said:—
“David asked me if she was my mother. Has the little rogue been claiming her for his?”
Miss Eastman slowly answered: “She does look a little like—”
“Yes,” the doctor interrupted, “more than that, I should say—more than a little like David’s mother. From the first time I saw that poor dear woman I thought so, and yet I was never quite sure that my fancy had not created the resemblance. It was an unaccountable likeness, and yet so strong a one that it meant much, very much to me.”
“I must take this home again,” she said, “for to-morrow David is to bring it back to you. He must tell you all about it—how he got into trouble. We shall come early in the morning, and he will stay here with Mrs. Botz, while I go with you.”
“Go with me?” The bushy eyebrows of Dr. Redfield raised with inquiring astonishment.
“You cannot go on forever like this,” she replied. “You must let others help. I think I can be rather useful down there in Duck Town. I shall be here early in the morning to go with you.”
The Doctor said nothing. He merely clasped the woman’s hand in his two hands, and the look in his face was the look of that little boy called David, when somebody has been good to him.
To Mrs. Wilson, the neighbor who had spent the better part of two hours with David, Miss Eastman was saying, “Must you go?”
Surely it is conclusive proof of superior intelligence in womankind that any of the sex can understand when she is wanted and when she is not wanted, although the idea in either case is conveyed in precisely the same words.
Miss Eastman, for her part, was honestly grateful to Mrs. Wilson for having remained with David during the early part of the evening, but now Mrs. Wilson could go home and come again another day. Miss Eastman did not say that; of course not! What she did say was, “Must you go?”
Mrs. Wilson saw she must. This, however, did not prevent her from apologizing for her departure, and on the door-step still another important subject was to be considered: the kindness of Mrs. Wilson in staying with David. Mrs. Wilson averred that such trifles were not to be spoken of. It was nothing at all. It had been no trouble, indeed it had not; it had been a pleasure. Mrs. Wilson said she believed in being neighborly.