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The tears shone in her eyes as she said,—. She pressed them against her cheek with a touch so tender he could have blessed her for it. And there came the other vision of the soft white fingers that had torn them so ruthlessly in her anger; of the hot, passionate words! Would she 49 forgive if he went to her, or would she tread his olive branch in the dust? He beat mammy dreadful—he uster when he had the drink in him. Boys soon get big enough to strike back. Yes, he saw, and his heart ached. He had a vague idea of some of the comfortable homes, 50 but to be without Dil!
It almost broke his to think he could not rescue them. He had finished the sketches,—there were several of them,—and he began to gather up his pencils. Keep right here until I return. The children gazed at each other in a sort of speechless wonder. There were no words to express the strange joy that filled each heart.
Their eyes followed him in and out, and even when he was lost to sight their faith remained perfect. Then they looked at each other, still in amazement. Mebbe he knows best. He soon returned with a bag of fruit. Such pears, such peaches, and bananas! And when he took out his silver fruit-knife, pared them, and made little plates out of paper, their wonder was beyond any words. O mister, please tell her to. I must find you some flowers too. And this evening I am going to start on a journey—to be away several weeks. When I come back—would your mother mind your posing for me, do you think?
He wanted to keep track of them. And I will bring you the book. You will learn more than I can tell you. I used to read it when I was a boy. And then we will talk about—going to heaven. How do you know? Some folks in the court have the Virgin Mary, but I never see God. There was no irreverence in her tone, but a perplexed wonder. And John Travis was helpless before it. How did the missionaries who went to the heathen ever make them understand?
They had their idols of wood and stone, and had prayed 54 to them; but this child had no God, not even an idol, though she loved Bess with every fibre of her being. Could he teach these children science? He had heard the talk of the slums occasionally, blood-curdling oaths, threats, wishes, curses hurled at one another.
These two little girls lived in it. Could any one enlighten them, unless they were taken to a new, clean world? Yet their souls seemed scarcely soiled by the contact, their faces bore the impress of purity.
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Was it thus when the Lord came in the flesh, when the wickedness of the world was very great, its hopelessness well nigh fatal? He found many ignorant souls; but they learned of him and believed, and went forth to convert the world. Was it so much more wicked now? He came and lived among them and helped them. She can never do anything to pay you back. She cannot sweep the house, nor tend the babies, nor sew, nor earn money. But you do it because you love her, and you only want love in return.
She gives it to you. He would have taken you in his arms and laid his hand on you, and you would have been strong and well. He begged them to do it because he had loved them. That was all he wanted back. But there were ungrateful people, and those who were eager to fight and destroy each other, and they would not listen to him.
Oh, are you sure, sure he will, so I can run about agen? He took little children in his arms and blessed them when they crowded around him so that people would have driven them away. I will take them to my 57 beautiful home, and they shall never suffer any more. They shall roam in lovely gardens and gather flowers, and sing and love and obey me, and be happy. I shall always love you best. He wondered if the Master had ever been rewarded with a more exquisite joy.
When he came to think of it, very few people had asked him to go to heaven. I shall have to go now. Oh, let me bring Bess over here. Here is something because you and Bess posed. What a week it had been, beginning with sorrow and loss, and—had he found the Master? Had these strange, brave little heathens, who knew not God, opened his eyes and his heart to that better way?
The children sat there in a maze of bewilderment. They knew nothing of fairy godmothers, or Santa Claus, or the dainty myths of childhood. Four years Bess had been in prison, twice four years Dilsey Quinn had been a bound slave. Not that Mrs. Quinn had been hard above all mothers. In the next house there were two little girls who sat and sewed from daylight to dark, and had no Saturday even, the age of Owen and Bess.
If they could have played when the men were sleeping off orgies, or the women gossiping, they would have had many a respite from toil. This wonderful thing that had befallen Bess and Dil was so beyond any event that had ever happened before, and their imaginations were so limited, they could never have dreamed such a romance. John Travis had disappeared in the throng. But there was the bag of fruit, and the sweet knowledge that nothing could take away.
The roar of vehicles had grown less. Pedestrians were thinning out, for supper-time was drawing nigh. The shadows were lengthening; the wind had a certain grateful coolness. Still they sat as in a trance. The little fingers closed over the firm brown ones. They looked at each other for some moments with grave, wondering eyes.
Then Dil rose soberly, settled Bess anew, and pushed the wagon along. The paper bag lay in plain sight, but no one molested it. Dil began to come back to her narrow, practical world. Heaven, as John Travis had put it, was something for Bess rather than herself. It was too great a feast to sit down to all at once. And Dil was not much used to feasting, even playing at it with bits of broken crockery and make-believes, as so many children do.
They left the enchanted country behind them, and returned to more familiar sights and sounds. Still, the delicious fragrance of the pears, the flavor of the peaches, the sweetness of the candy, was so much beyond the treats over on the East Side. They both laughed. Dil handed her the bag, full of fruity fragrance. She drew out a bill with a fearful little gesture. You could hide the things away from mammy. But jinky! She drew the wagon up by the corner of the show-window, and, taking Bess in her arms, entered the store and seated her on a stool, standing so she could brace the weak little back.
She felt dazed to have it come true. Her face flushed, her breath came irregularly, her heart beat with a delicious, half-guilty pleasure. There was no one else in the store. A pale, tired, but kindly-looking woman came to wait on her. Dil tried on caps with laces and ribbons, and Bess looked so angelic it broke her heart to take them off. But the plain ones were less likely to betray them.
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A shrewd little shopper was Dil. She counted 64 up every purchase, and laid aside the sum, really surprised at her bargains and the amount she had left. The attendant was very sympathetic, and inquired what had befallen Bess. She was afraid her mother might be washing somewhere, and hear the story, if she was too explicit. They chose one with a pink border, thinking of the wild roses that had brought such great good luck. Dil had been struggling between economy and a belt ribbon. She raised her brown eyes so full of delight that words were hardly needed. They packed up their goods and departed.
Bess wore her cap, and held up her head like a real lady. I doubt if there were two happier children in the whole city. Dusk was beginning to fall; but all the stores were in a glow, and now people were coming out again after supper. They seldom stayed this late, 65 but to-night they were quite safe.
And oh, how splendid it all was! Bess kept turning partly round and talking out her delight. Pain and weariness were forgotten. They laughed in sheer gladness. If John Travis could have seen them, he would have said he had never in his life made such an investment of five dollars. Oh, what a lot of things you can buy when you have some money! Poor Dil had been banged pretty severely in her short day. Last spring Mrs. Poor Dil! The mystery was incomprehensible. It was late when they reached home. Oh, the sickening heat and smells! But at this hour on Saturday night the court was comparatively quiet.
The revelry began later. Dan sat on the stoop crying. He had been in a fight, and the under dog at that, and had one black eye, and his jacket torn to ribbons. Dan was mightily tempted to spend the penny otherwise, but the thought of the goodies restrained him. She had everything put away when Dan returned, so she washed his face and bound up his eye. Dil fixed him some supper, and he devoured it with the apparent capacity of the elephant. Now the young conspirators had to consider about a hiding-place for their unaccustomed treasures. What a fortune it was! They glanced furtively at each other, as if questioning their right to it.
Then she bathed Bess, and threw away the ragged garments. Bess was tired, but bright and happy. They stowed away their purchases, and were all settled when Owen came in.
You are here
No one would have guessed the rare holiday. But Dil was so tired that she slept through it all, forgetting 69 about the money, and not even haunted by dreams. It was past midnight when Mrs. Quinn returned, to find everything still within. She tumbled across her bed, and slept the sleep of a drunken woman until Sunday noon. Dil looked after the breakfast. Out of an old bundle she found a jacket a size or two beyond him, but the children of the slums are not critical.
The boys went out to roam the streets. Patsey sidled in with a knowing wink towards Mrs. It was nearly always safe on Sunday morning. He had a handful of flowers. Dil made her mother a cup of strong coffee, and brushed out her long black hair, still handsome enough for a woman of fashion to envy. She had made a big Irish stew for dinner, and when the house was cleared up, she had leave to 70 take Bess out.
But they did not go to the square to-day. They rambled up and down some of the nicer streets, where the houses were closed and the people away, and speculated about the journey to heaven in the spring. There were hundreds more who did not even know there was a heaven, or for what the church bells rang, or why Sunday came. The week was melting hot. One of the babies had a very sick day, and died that night. Several others in the court died, but the summer was always hard on babies. Quinn had a day off, and went up to Glen Island. Children and babies were taken away for a day or a week; but Dil was too busy, and it would have been no pleasure for Bess to go without her.
But some way they were overlooked. The heat kept up well in September. People came home from the country, and Mrs. It seemed strange indeed that Bess could live under such circumstances. She kept the child exquisitely clean; she even indulged in a bottle of refreshing cologne, and some luxuries, for which 71 they blessed John Travis. Three times they had been over to the square. They counted up the weeks; they believed with all possible faith at first, then Dil weakened unconsciously. She used to get so tired herself in these days. Her mother was very captious, and the babies fell off.
Some days Dil put in two nickels out of her precious fund. Bess insisted upon it.
Dilsey Quinn ran out of an errand now and then. She was too busy ever to loiter, and every moment away from Bess was torture. So, although they lived in a crowd, they might as well have been on a desert island, as far as companionship went. And now they saw less of Patsey, to their sorrow. He had saved up a little money, and borrowed some from a good friend, and bought a chair, and set himself up in business. The last of September the weather, that had been lovely, changed. There was a long, cold storm, and blustering winds that would have done credit to March.
No one had ever found out. How often they looked wistfully at each other, and asked a wordless question. But John Travis had not found them, had not come. Six weeks since that blissful Saturday! It had been a very hard day for Dil; and heaven seemed far off, as it does to many of us in times of trouble. The morning was lowering and chilly.
Then Mrs. Kenny was a young and deserted wife who worked in a coat-shop, and Mamie was a Saturday boarder as well. Only one more baby came in. Quinn suddenly reappeared. Watson had been called away by the illness of her mother, and the washing was to go over to the next week. Her mother caught her by the shoulder, and banged her head sharp against the wall, until no telescope was needed for her to see stars, even in the day time.
They swirled around like balls of fire, and Dil staggered to a chair, looking so ghastly that her mother was startled. Bess seemed to shrink into nothing.
Quinn had taken her glass of gin too early in the 74 day. What would have happened next—but a rap on the door averted it. The big folks where she lives have been lift in the lurch with ivry blissid thing sprinkled down. She looked at me so dreadful. And she would have shaked the very life out of me if she had taken hold of me. She held Bess close—all her life was centred in this poor, maimed body. The babies might cry, the world might cease to be, but nothing should part them.
And to-day she knows. Dil had fought silent battles with herself for faith in John Travis, but Bess had never wavered until now. But it was splendid! She stopped exhausted, but her eyes glowed with the vision, and a rapture illumined her wan face. Ah, Bess, one poor, forlorn creature, born in the brain of the finest genius of his time, made the same pathetic outcry in her pitiful plight, brought about by her own ill-doing.
And you both touched the boundary of a broad truth. Dil gave a long, quivering breath, and it seemed as if her arms could never unclose again, so tight and fast did they hold their treasure. Why, we might have been to heaven before real cold weather. She put her down softly, and tucked the faded quilt about her. Mamie had fallen asleep on the floor, and she laid her on her own little pallet. The other baby had found a dropped-out knot in the floor, and was trying to put his crust of bread down through it. Dil washed her dishes and tidied up the house. The clothes from the floor above swung on the pulley-line, and helped to shut out even the chilly gray light.
Then there was dinner to get for the boys, who went to school quite steadily. There was never any special pinch in the Travis household, any choice of two things, with the other to be given up entirely. His father was an easy-going man, his mother an amiable society woman, proud, of course, of her good birth. Perhaps this was where their good blood really showed itself. Travis had a little leaning toward the law for his son; the young fellow fancied he had a little leaning toward medicine. He dallied somewhat with both; he wrote a few pretty society verses; he etched very successfully, and he painted a few pictures, which roused an art ambition within him.
He fell in love with a sweet girl in the winter, and in the late summer they had quarrelled and gone separate ways. Travis farm had been his early home; and there John, the little boy, had fallen in love with the big boy. Austin was one of the charming society men that women delight in.
Every winter girls tried their best for him; and John was made much of on his account, for they were almost inseparable. It was Austin who compelled the rather dilatory young fellow to paint in earnest. Austin had planned a September tour. They would spend a few days with grandmother, and then go to the Adirondacks. He knew a camping-out party of artists and designers that it would be an advantage for John to meet. John had packed his traps and sent them down to the boat, that was to go out at six. There was nothing special to do. He was very fond of seeing people group themselves together and change like a kaleidoscope.
But his heart was sore and indignant, and then his quick eye fell on the withered rose-buds in the shrunken hand of the child, and after 80 that adventure he had barely time to catch his boat. He hardly knew himself as he sat on the deck till past midnight. Two little poverty-stricken waifs had somehow changed his thoughts, his life. When he was a little boy at Travis Farm a great many curious ideas about heaven had floated through his brain.
And when his grandmother sang in her soft, limpid voice,—. Perhaps his ideas were not much wiser than those of poor little ignorant Bess. He had travelled with Pilgrim; he had known all the people on the way, and they were real enough to him at that period.
Oh, how long ago that seemed! Everything had changed since then. Science had uprooted simple faith. One lived by sight now. The old myths were still beautiful, of course. But long before Christ came, the Greek philosophers had prayed, and the Indian religions had had their self-denying saviours. But he had promised to find the way to heaven for them, and they were so ignorant.
He had promised to go thither himself, and he had dipped 81 into so many philosophies; he knew so much, and yet he was so ignorant. But there must be a heaven, that was one fact; and there must be a way to go thither. Sunday morning he was in Albany with Austin and two young men he had known through the winter. One of them was very attentive to a pretty cousin who would be found at Travis Farm. They had a leisurely elegant breakfast, they took a carriage and drove about to points of interest, had a course dinner, smoked and talked in the evening.
But the inner John was a little boy again, and had gone to church with his grandmother. The sermon was long, and he did not understand it; but he read the hymns he liked, and chewed a bit of fennel, and went almost asleep. They went out to Travis Farm the next morning. Of course the young people had a good time. They always did at Travis Farm, and they were fond of coming. I go singing about the house for company when no one is here; but old voices are apt to get thin in places, you know.
He did not say he had hunted up an old hymn-book, and read the words over and over. But presently he joined in, keeping his really fine tenor voice down to a low key, and they sang together. That was all. She had let her life of seventy-four years do her preaching. But she still prayed for her sheaves.
How had he come to have so much courage on Saturday afternoon, and so little now? Of course he could not be quite sure. They went on to the Adirondacks. He was delighted with the artist group. He was planning out his winter. He would take a studio with some one. He would see what he could do for the Quinn children, and paint his fine picture.
She would see it when it was exhibited somewhere. There would be a curious satisfaction in it. And yet he was carrying around with him every day three faded, shrivelled wild-rose buds. And then one day they brought in Austin Travis insensible—dead, maybe. There was a little blood stain on his face and his golden brown beard; and it was an hour before they could restore him to consciousness. Just by a miracle he had been saved. A bit of rock that seemed so secure, had been secure for centuries perhaps, split off, taking him down with it.
He had the presence of mind to throw away his gun, but the fall had knocked him insensible. He had lain some time before the others found him. There were bruises, a dislocated shoulder, and three broken ribs. Surgery could soon mend those. Life was so much to him, all to him. He could not go down into nothingness with his days but half told. Out of all the plans and advice it was settled 84 to try the south of France, and perhaps the Madeira Isles, to take such good care and have such an equable climate that the wound might heal.
And John was to be his companion and nurse and friend for all the lighter offices. Austin had hardly allowed him to go out of his sight. They had returned to New York. Everything was arranged. Austin was impatient to be off before cold weather. So gently, Dil was sure of a customer for her mother. The babies were asleep. Bess was fixed in her wagon. Dil had some patches of bright colors that she was going to sew together, and make a new carriage rug. Dil stood in a strange, sweet, guilty abasement. She had disbelieved him. Bess gave a soft, thrilling cry of delight, and stretched out her hands.
I have been staying with a cousin who met with a sad accident and is still ill. He was taking a little survey of the room. The stove shone. The floor was clean. The white curtain made a light spot in the half gloom. The warmth felt grateful, coming out of the chilly air, though it was rather close. Dil did not look as well as on the summer day. And Bess was wasted to a still frailer wraith, if such a thing was possible. They both looked up eagerly, as he untied the package, and slipped out of an envelope a delicately tinted photograph.
O mister, will she look that way in heaven? Dil nodded. Her eyes were full of tears. Something she had never known before struggled within her, and almost rent her soul. The tone moved him immeasurably. His eyelids quivered. There were thousands of poor children in the world, some much worse off than these. He could not minister to all of them, but he did wish he could put these two in a different home. She had not been so hard worked, nor had her head banged so many times. Such a little thing; such great faith! And he had been comparing claims, discrepancies, and wondering, questioning, afraid to believe a delusion.
Was he truly his Lord Jesus? The simple belief of the children touched, melted him. It was like finding a rare and exquisite blossom in an arid desert. He wished he were not going away. He would like to care for little Bess until the time of her release came.
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Ah, would they 89 be disillusioned when they came to know what the real pilgrimage was? And while I am gone you must have some money to buy medicines and the little luxuries your mother cannot afford. And Dil may like to know—that I am going to put her in a picture, and the money will be truly her own. We never knowed any one like you afore. Are you very rich, mister? You must have been to school a good deal. Oh, how soft your hands are! She laughed delightedly as she enclosed one in both of hers, and then pressed it to her cheek.
Ah, ah! There was a lump 91 in his throat, and he began to untie the string of the book to evade a more decisive answer. He turned some of the leaves and found one picture—Christiana ascending the palace steps amid a host of angels. From this squalid place and poverty, to that—how could he explain the steps between? When he came back Bess would be gone—.
Poor Dil was again conscience smitten. She glanced up through tears,—. He was a coward after all. Dil raised her eyes with a slow, beseeching movement. The sweet old hymn, almost forgotten amid the clash of modern music. Ah, there was some one who would love and care for Dil in her desolation—his grandmother. He would write to her. Then he began, and at the first note the children were enraptured:—. John Travis had a tender, sympathetic voice. Just now he was more moved by emotion than he would have imagined. Dil turned her face away and picked up the tears with her fingers.
It was too beautiful to cry about, for crying was associated with sorrow or pain. A great inarticulate desire thrilled through her, a blind, passionate longing for a better, higher life, as if she belonged somewhere else. And, like Bess, an impatience pervaded her to be gone at once. There was a knock, and then the door opened softly.
It was Mrs. Murphy, with her sick baby in her arms. Will ye lit her come down, plaise, or will ye come up? John Travis flushed suddenly. Dil glanced at her visitor aghast. Some finer instinct questioned whether he were offended. But he smiled. If it would give a poor old woman a pleasure—. Dil was considering a critical point.
She had learned to be wise in evading the fury of a half-drunken woman. There were many things she kept to herself. But Mrs. Murphy would talk him over. A Moody and Sankey man,—she had not a very clear idea; but if Mrs. Murphy knew, it might be wisdom to have some one here who would speak a good word for her if it should be needed. She simply stepped into the hall; but the old woman was half-way down-stairs, and needed no further summons. Come in. A bowed and shrunken woman, with thin, white, straggling hair, watery, hungry-looking eyes, a wrinkled, ashen skin, her lips a leaden blue and sunken from lack of teeth.
She had one of Mrs.
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Now and then some one gave her a little work out of pity. She dropped down on the lounge. My poor old mother used to sing it. She was so pitiful, with her timorous, lonely look, and the hard struggles time had written on her everywhere. Some one else paused to listen and look in, and stared with strange interest at the fine young fellow, whose rich, deep voice found a way to their hearts. And as he sang, a realization of their pinched, joyless lives filled him with dismay. Bolan rocked herself too and fro, her hands clutched tightly over her breast, as if she was hugging some comfort she could not afford to let go.
The tears rolled silently down her furrowed cheeks. Shure, it would move the heart of a sthone. Shure, Mrs. Bolan shuffled forward and caught his 97 hand in hers, which seemed almost to rattle, they were so bony. And you get kicked aside. A bit of prayer!
He had been praying a little for himself of late, but it came awkward after his years of intellectual complacency. A youngish woman was glancing at him in frightened desperation, as if she waited for something to turn her very life. There was but one thing he could think of in this stress—the divine mandate. Could anything be more complete? When ye pray, say,—. John Travis stood with upraised hand. Clearly, slowly, the words fell, and you could hear only the labored respiration of the women.
There was a benediction—he could not recall it, but a verse of Scripture came into his mind. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. He squeezed something into her hand as she turned to go. The little crowd dispersed. It began to grow dusky.
Days were shorter, and sunless at that. And I shall come back. Heaven help her on her lonely journey. But the Saviour who blessed little children would be tender of her surely. Oh, do not be afraid, God will care for you. I can understand that. One more glance at Bess, whose face was lighted with an exalted glow, as if she were poised, just ready for flight.
Oh, what could comfort Dil when she was gone? And he had so much! He was so rich in home and love. A woman stood in the lower hallway, the half-despairing face he had noted. She clutched his arm. The cry pierced him. Yes, there was a beneficent power in money. He gave thanks for it, as he crushed it in her hand. How did the poor souls live, herded in this narrow court?
He had reasoned about poverty being one of the judicious forces of the world. He had studied its picturesque aspects, its freedom from care and responsibility, its comfortable disregard of conventionals, its happy indifference to custom and opinion. Did these people look joyous and content? Why, their faces even now haunted him with the weight of hopeless sorrow. Oh, what could he do to ease the burthen of the world? Dil picked up the baby after she had lighted the lamp.
She was still in a maze, as if some vision had come and gone. Was he really here? Or had she been in a blissful dream? She had never thought much about rich people before. O Dil! Dil wanted to sit down and cry from some unknown excess of feeling—she never had time to cry from pure joy. Then she stirred the fire and put on the potatoes. It was beginning to rain, and the boys came in noisily. The babies went home, and they had supper. It was quite late when Mrs.
Quinn returned home, and she threw a bundle on the lounge. The boys being in, and Bess out of the way, she had nothing to scold about. But when Mrs. Why, Mrs. Ah, dear—ave ye cud hev heard him! Dil, did you give him a cint? Murphy indignantly. Murphy went off in high dudgeon without another word. Garrick, though the praists do say there bees but the wan way. Dil sat in awful fear when the door had closed behind their neighbor. So long as it was not broken now, Dil gave secret thanks.
Did God help any? She examined the suit, and found it a nice one, rather large for Dan, who was not growing like a weed, although he ran the streets. Her mother began to snore. So Dil stole into the little room, and began to prepare Bess for bed, though she trembled with a half fear. They had not gone far enough in the Christian life, poor ignorant little souls, to have much missionary spirit.
But they kissed, and kissed softly, in the half-dark, and cried a little—tender tears touched with a sadness that was as sweet as joy. Dil stepped about cautiously, emptied the grate, and did up her night-work. There seemed a certainty about heaven that she had not experienced before, a confidence in John Travis that gave her a stubborn faith. He would surely return in the spring. She fell asleep in her visionary journey when she was up beyond Central Park.
She was always so tired, and this night quite exhausted. But Bess kept floating on a sea of delicious sound; and if ever one had visions of the promised land, it was Bessy Quinn. There were seven babies in the next morning, it being a sharp, clear day. Quinn had gone off about her business with no row. When Bess had been dressed and had her breakfast, they drew out the precious book.
They looked at the pictures as the babies would allow them the leisure, and spelled out the explanation underneath. It was so wonderful, though at times they were appalled by the difficulties and dangers. And it was almost night when they reached the crowning-point of all,—Christiana going across the river. She was entering the river with a fearless step and uplifted face. Angels with spreading wings and rapturous faces.
Her husband coming to meet her, and the Lord Jesus ministering an abundant welcome. What a day it was! Never was day so short, so utterly delightful. Some of the babies were cross: out of seven little poorly born and poorly nourished babies, there were wants and woes; but Dil hugged them, cuddled them, crooned to them, with a radiant bliss she had never known before. She could look so surely at the end. An old debt of half a dollar came in, and there were thirty-five cents for the babies.
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Dan had on his new suit too, and altogether Mrs. Quinn was remarkably good-natured. Dil felt almost conscience-smitten about the book—but then the story would have to come out, and alas! After that they began to read the wonderful story. Dil was not much of a scholar. Her school-days had been few and far between, never continuous enough to give her any real interest. Indeed, she had not been bright at her books, and her mother had not cared.
School was something to fill up the time until children were old enough to go to work. But Dil surely had enough to fill up her time. Bess would have far outstripped her in learning. But Dil had a shrewd head, and was handy with her needle. But the reading was very hard labor. They did not know the meaning or the application of words, and their pronouncing ability was indeed halting. They had not even attained to the practical knowledge acquired by mingling with other children. She would have felt awkward and out of place playing with anything but a baby. Bess found the most similitudes in Christiana.
Even John Travis would have been amused by her literal interpretation. I was most feared it would be lonesome like. Dil gave a long sigh. She was as impatient as Bess, but she hardly dared set her heart upon the hope. She was a very busy little woman, and her mind had to be on her work. The garments given to the boys had, of course, the best taken out of them, and Owen was hard on his clothes. As for the stockings, their darning was a work of labor, if not of love. Bess had to be kept warm and comfortable, and Dil tried to make her pretty as well.
But she tried to give Bess an airing on Sunday. It was such a change for the poor little invalid. Quinn was better pleased to be busy all the time. Besides the money, which was really needed now that fires were more expensive, she liked the change, the gossiping and often it was a pleasure to find fault with her customers.
She still went to Mrs. With the advent of November came a week of glorious Indian summer weather. And one Saturday Mrs. Quinn was to do some cleaning at a fine house, and stay to help with a grand dinner. Dil rushed through with her work, and they went up to the Square that afternoon, and sat in the old place. The sparrows came and chirped cheerfully; but the flowers were gone, the trees leafless.
Yet it was delightful to picture it all again. John Travis would have felt sorry for Dil to-day—perhaps if he had seen her for the first time he would not have been so instantly attracted. Her eyes were heavy, her skin dark and sodden. Even Bess grew weary with the long ride. Bess fell asleep presently. Dil made slow work spelling out the words and not knowing half the meanings. Her seasons at the Mission School had always been brief, from various causes.
Now and then some visitor came in, but the talk was often in phrases that Dil did not understand. She had not a quick comprehension, neither was she an imaginative child. Would Bess be strong enough in the spring to take the long journey? There was a vague misgiving tugging at her heart.