“I should not be so ‘little’ if I were well,” Dorothy returned, with a faint sigh. Then, glancing up at her attendant, she added: “This is my nurse, Alice, and she has to wheel me about because I cannot walk.”
Katherine bestowed a friendly look and nod upon Alice; then a great wave of compassion for the little cripple swept over her heart and softened her earnest brown eyes as she turned back to her and remarked, in a cheery tone:
“You have a lovely chair. These rubber tires must cause it to roll very smoothly and make it easy for Alice to wheel you about.”
“Yes, I like my chair very much—my Uncle Phillip brought it to me from Germany—and Alice is very nice about taking me everywhere I want to go; but it would be so much nicer if I could walk and run about like other girls,” and Dorothy’s yearning tone smote painfully upon every listening ear.
“It certainly would, dear,” Katherine returned, giving the small hand that still clung to hers a loving pressure, adding, softly: “And sometime you will, I hope.”
The child’s face glowed at the term of endearment; but her pale lips quivered slightly at the hopeful assurance.
“Oh! no,” she said, shaking her head slowly; “I have a double curvature of the spine, and all the doctors say I never can. I—I--think I could bear that—not being able to walk—but the dreadful pain sometimes makes me wish I wasn’t here at all.”
Katherine did not make any reply to this pathetic information. For a moment or two she seemed to be oblivious to everything, even to the presence of her companions, and stood looking off towards the western sky, as if communing with some unseen presence there.
Then, suddenly arousing herself, she detached a beautiful pink rosebud from the lapel of her jacket, saying, brightly: “Do you love flowers, Dorothy? will you let me fasten this on your coat? It is fresh from the greenhouse and will last some time yet. There—see!” as she deftly pinned it in place. “What a pretty contrast it makes against the dark-blue cloth.”
“It is lovely,” said the girl, bending forward to inhale its perfume. “How perfect it is! Do you ever wonder, Miss Minturn, why God makes the flowers and things that grow so perfect and beautiful, and people—so many of them—imperfect and ugly?”
“My dear,” Mrs. Seabrook here smilingly interposed, though a quickly repressed sigh arose to her lips, “I hope you are not going to involve Miss Minturn in a metaphysical discussion during this first meeting! Dorothy has acquired a habit of philosophizing and asking profound questions that are not always easily answered,” she explained to Katherine.
“Surely, dear, you do not think that God ever made anyone, or anything, imperfect or ugly?” Katherine gently inquired.
The child hesitated a moment, as if pondering the question.
“Well,” she presently asserted, with a positive intonation and nod of her head, “there are a lot of deformed, sick and ugly people in the world, and the Bible tells us that He made everything.”