“No such sacrifice as that, honey. But let’s all go up to Middies’ Haven where I’ll tell you all about it.”
DUNMORE’S LAST CHRISTMAS
When Mrs. Harold’s little breakfast party returned to her sitting-room, she dropped into her favorite chair before the blazing log fire, motioning to the others to gather about her. Polly and Peggy promptly perched upon the arms of her chair, nestling close; Durand squatted, Turk-fashion, upon a big cushion at her feet. Wheedles leaned with unstudied grace against the mantel-shelf, while Happy, Ralph, and Shortie seated themselves upon the big couch whose capacity seemed to be something like the magic tent of the Arabian Nights’ tale, and capable of indefinite expansion.
“What is it, Little Mother?” asked Wheedles, while Durand glanced up with his deep, dark eyes, and a slight quiver of the sensitive mouth.
“Just a little plan I have for Dunmore’s happiness today” she answered, alluding to a second-classman who had been severely injured upon the football field late in October, and who had been paralyzed ever since. His people lived far away and it was difficult for them to reach him, and the day would have been a sad one but for his chums in the Academy and his many friends.
Among these latter none were more devoted than Mrs. Harold and Polly, for Lewis Dunmore had been one of the Little Mother’s boys since he first entered the Academy and she was nearly heart-broken at the serious outcome of his accident, as no hope was entertained of his recovery.
All knew this, and the tenderest sympathy went out to the sick lad who had never for a moment ceased to hope for ultimate recovery and whose patience, courage and cheerfulness under conditions so terrible, filled with admiration the hearts of all who knew him.
Polly had been untiring in her devotion to him, and “the little foster-sister,” as he called her, spent many an hour in the hospital, reading, talking, or whistling like a bird, for whistling was Polly’s sole accomplishment. Peggy often went with her, for she loved to make others happy, and many a weary hour was made less weary for him by the two girls, and Peggy had sent many a dainty dish from Severndale, or the fruit and flowers for which it was noted. She knew Polly and Mrs. Howland had planned something for Christmas day, but waited for them to tell her, feeling delicate about asking questions. She had sent over every dainty she could think of and great bunches of mistletoe.
Mrs. Harold smiled upon the young faces she loved so dearly and said
“Yesterday morning Polly and I sent up a lot of Christmas greens and a tree for Lewis, and later went up to dress it, arranging with the nurses to put it in his room when he was sleeping that it might be the first thing his eyes fell upon when he wakened this morning. He has probably been looking at it many an hour, but we told the nurses we would come up about ten-thirty to give him the presents. We wanted to make it a merry hour for him, and so a lot of nonsensical things were put on for his friends also, among them you boys and some others to whom I have written, and who will meet us there. Can you join us?”