They began to walk up and down the room. The little boy was clinging to Mother’s hand and he kept tangling his pink feet in the folds of his night dress, while his tearful eyes were fixed steadfastly upon the earnest face above him.
“Mother!” he suddenly called out, “where’s my scrap-book?”
David had found a way. He and Mother hurried to the bookcase. In great haste they rummaged the shelves; magazines were pushed aside; pamphlets and papers were pushed aside—Good! Here it was, that scrapbook. Wild with excitement David began thumbing the pages; he laughed; he tore some of the leaves. Then he pounced down upon his chief treasure, a picture which Mitch Horrigan had wanted to buy with some strips of tin, a broken Jew’s harp, and a wad of shoemaker’s wax.
A great masterpiece, this. To the eyes of childhood nothing could be more beautiful. It was a pink and pensive cow with a slight clerical expression, a very dignified animal, caught in the act of sedately skipping the rope.
“Splendid!” Mother exclaimed.
“Yes,” David answered, gasping with relief. Then he chuckled in triumph, and Mother did, too. When the picture had been detached from the page the little boy held it tenderly in his hands. Nothing must happen to it until it could be used in making things right with the Doctor.
There had been so much excitement over the cow, so much delight over securing a sacrifice to take the place of the Broken Lady, that when Mother began to dress her little boy she imagined that all thought of trousers had gone from him. But it was not so. With prompt disfavor he regarded the blue suit of kilts edged with lacy braid, and although there was reluctance in Mother’s heart, she began to look for the missing knickerbockers.
Every mother must come to it. She must help us tug and pull at the clumsy things even if there comes something to tug and pull at her heart. What matter if there be a voice within her that is crying out to the child of yesterday to linger yet a little longer in the dear winsomeness that will so soon be gone? Call as you will, poor mother; your boy will not heed you now, for the way to manhood is long to travel, and we men-children cannot wait until you, with your pretty dreams, are willing to have us go.
David had learned a trick of loudly clacking his heels upon the walk to make it seem that he was no longer a little boy. With the picture held firmly in his hands he went strutting proudly at Mother’s side when they fared forth this early morning for the Doctor’s house.
The street was very still and smelled of yesterday’s rain. In the moist hush and semi-darkness which precedes the dawn, the buildings were all silent and buried in mystery, and they gave back a distinct replication of David’s footstep. In response to his question as to what other little boy was out of bed so early, Mother answered:—