“Now let me tell you who I am, and how I came to you in such an unceremonious way,” began Christie, when her hostess returned and found her warmed, refreshed, and composed by a woman’s three best comforters,—kind words, a baby, and a cup of tea.
“’Pears to me, dear, I wouldn’t rile myself up by telling any werryments to-night, but git right warm inter bed, and have a good long sleep,” said Mrs. Wilkins, without a ray of curiosity in her wholesome red face.
“But you don’t know any thing about me, and I may be the worst woman in the world,” cried Christie, anxious to prove herself worthy of such confidence.
“I know that you want takin’ care of, child, or Rachel wouldn’t a sent you. Ef I can help any one, I don’t want no introduction; and ef you be the wust woman in the world (which you ain’t), I wouldn’t shet my door on you, for then you’d need a lift more’n you do now.”
Christie could only put out her hand, and mutely thank her new friend with full eyes.
“You’re fairly tuckered out, you poor soul, so you jest come right up chamber and let me tuck you up, else you’ll be down sick. It ain’t a mite of inconvenience; the room is kep for company, and it’s all ready, even to a clean night-cap. I’m goin’ to clap this warm flat to your feet when you’re fixed; it’s amazin’ comfortin’ and keeps your head cool.”
Up they went to a tidy little chamber, and Christie found herself laid down to rest none too soon, for she was quite worn out. Sleep began to steal over her the moment her head touched the pillow, in spite of the much beruffled cap which Mrs. Wilkins put on with visible pride in its stiffly crimped borders. She was dimly conscious of a kind hand tucking her up, a comfortable voice purring over her, and, best of all, a motherly good-night kiss, then the weary world faded quite away and she was at rest.
A cure for despair.
When Christie opened the eyes that had closed so wearily, afternoon sunshine streamed across the room, and seemed the herald of happier days. Refreshed by sleep, and comforted by grateful recollections of her kindly welcome, she lay tranquilly enjoying the friendly atmosphere about her, with so strong a feeling that a skilful hand had taken the rudder, that she felt very little anxiety or curiosity about the haven which was to receive her boat after this narrow escape from shipwreck.
Her eye wandered to and fro, and brightened as it went; for though a poor, plain room it was as neat as hands could make it, and so glorified with sunshine that she thought it a lovely place, in spite of the yellow paper with green cabbage roses on it, the gorgeous plaster statuary on the mantel-piece, and the fragrance of dough-nuts which pervaded the air. Every thing suggested home life, humble but happy, and Christie’s solitary heart warmed at the sights and sounds about her.