Mr. Power looked at Christie with so much meaning in his face that it was her turn to color now. But with feminine perversity she would not own herself mistaken, and answered with eyes as full of meaning as his own:
“I like the single ones best: double-carnations are so untidy, all bursting out of the calyx as if the petals had quarrelled and could not live together.”
“The single ones are seldom perfect, and look poor and incomplete with little scent or beauty,” said unconscious David propping up the thin-leaved flower, that looked like a pale solitary maiden, beside the great crimson and white carnations near by, filling the air with spicy odor.
“I suspect you will change your mind by and by, Christie, as your taste improves, and you will learn to think the double ones the handsomest,” added Mr. Power, wondering in his benevolent heart if he would ever be the gardener to mix the colors of the two human plants before him.
“I must go,” and David shouldered his basket as if he felt he might be in the way.
“So must I, or they will be waiting for me at the hospital. Give me a handful of flowers, David: they often do the poor souls more good than my prayers or preaching.”
Then they went away, and left Christie sitting in the strawberry bed, thinking that David looked less than ever like a hero with his blue shirt, rough straw hat, and big boots; also wondering if he would ever show her his best side, and if she would like it when she saw it.
On the fourth of September, Christie woke up, saying to herself: “It is my birthday, but no one knows it, so I shall get no presents. Ah, well, I’m too old for that now, I suppose;” but she sighed as she said it, for well she knew one never is too old to be remembered and beloved.
Just then the door opened, and Mrs. Sterling entered, carrying what looked very like a pile of snow-flakes in her arms. Laying this upon the bed, she kissed Christie, saying with a tone and gesture that made the words a benediction:
“A happy birthday, and God bless thee, my daughter!”
Before Christie could do more than hug both gift and giver, a great bouquet came flying in at the open window, aimed with such skill that it fell upon the bed, while David’s voice called out from below: “A happy birthday, Christie, and many of them!”
“How sweet, how kind of you, this is! I didn’t dream you knew about to-day, and never thought of such a beautiful surprise,” cried Christie, touched and charmed by this unexpected celebration.
“Thee mentioned it once long ago, and we remembered. They are very humble gifts, my dear; but we could not let the day pass without some token of the thanks we owe thee for these months of faithful service and affectionate companionship.”