“Why don’t I never have no fav-ver?”
Often David asked that question; upon awakening and upon going to bed he was pretty sure to make inquiries that were never satisfactorily answered. And now, one morning, it was a decided relief to Mother to have him ask something else. With eager questioning he said:
Early, very early, he had awakened her to ask her that, for he had been told, on going to bed, that when the day should come again he would be four years old. Twice in the night he had asked if he was It; so when the dawn at last showed with a lovely pinkness in the lacy folds of the curtains, and the note of a far-away meadow-lark called him into the glory of birthday happiness, he wanted to be very certain that this famous period of his life had actually come.
Before demanding if it were quite true, he lay still awhile and thought about it. He looked at Mother’s face, and snuggled his fingers into the fairy foam of her nightgown, but the face and the fairy foam at her throat had not changed in the least. They were just the same as they had been yesterday and the day before and the day before that.
It was very strange. He had supposed that when a little boy is four years old, his life would be somehow—different. That is why he was still in doubt; he was not at all sure about being four years old. He would wake up Mother and then, if he was It, she would make him feel that he was.
Her reassurance, though, was not nearly so satisfying as he had hoped.
“Yes, dear; it’s your birthday. Now go to sleep awhile, my pretty.”
David lay very still, but he did not go to sleep. By and by he asked rather uneasily:
“What do you do first?”
“What do you mean, little boy?”
“Little? Am I little?”
“Of course you’re growing,” Mother told him.
But David would not be deceived. Already the suspicion had come to him that there was nothing grand about being four years old. It was not a success; it was a failure, and his one hope now rested in Dr. Redfield, for this was the morning when the Doctor had promised to waylay the little boy.
“How does that begin?” David asked. He could not think what it was that began.
“How does what begin?” Mother inquired.
And that was not nice nor reasonable of her. Mothers are made to answer questions, not to ask questions, and they are so discouraging when they can’t understand about being waylaid! David felt abused, but he decided to have one more try at her. Then, if she didn’t give him satisfaction, he would know that Four Years Old was all a humbug. As he looked longingly into her face, his words faltered, as though he were again expecting disappointment.
“Will he—will he wear his big, shiny hat when he does it?”
Into Mother’s face came a puzzled, half knowing look. She recalled the admiration inspired in a certain little boy by a certain abominable top hat that a certain doctor had once worn to a certain annual meeting of the State Medical Society. But this was the extent of her knowledge.