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CHAPTER V A MINIATURE
“Jessica! Ho! Jessica-a. Olive is looking for you-u, Jessica. She’s gone into the library now.” Sybil Deering’s high, laughing voice, rilling and trilling on terminal vowels like the spring note of a meadow-lark, rang up the broad staircase of the Deering mansion.

“Oh! is she? I’m coming. I’ll be down in just a minute,” sang back the girlish tones which had called the Bluebird on the playground; in the smallest of the guest-rooms upstairs—a pretty nest, like Olive’s bedroom—Jessica Holley laid down a paint-brush, closed a box of water-colors which looked as if it had seen service in other hands than hers, thrust aside a smeared palette, daubed with burnt sienna, yellow and black, on which she had been experimenting with colors in order to get something like the right shade for a Camp Fire Girl’s ceremonial dress of khaki and, forthwith, proceeded to the library.

“Jessica, when are we going to take those things to the little deaf-and-dumb girl, the frock you made for her—which you exhibited at the Council Fire last night—and the shoes I bought? I’m just longing to see her in them,” said Olive directly she showed her nose within the realm of books.

“Immediately after luncheon; I’ve got a plan. I’m going to call up Arline and Sally—Betty Ayres wants to come with us, too—and tell them about it; we’ll time our start so’s to arrive on the playground a little after two o’clock, before the playground teachers get back from dinner, and if little ’Becca is there (did I tell you I had found out that her name is Rebecca?) we’ll just inveigle her into a shed and dress her up in the new finery, throw away the old shoes, perhaps, the grey frock, too—then, when the teachers turn up and the dancing begins, the other children won’t know her.”

“She won’t know herself. Did you find out whether she was born deaf and dumb?”

“No. She became stone-deaf at four years old after scarlet fever; then she gradually lost the power of speech, too, so her mother told one of the playground teachers. Her parents are Russian Jews who have only been a couple of years in this country. The teacher thinks that some of the croaking sounds she makes are fragments of words in her own tongue that she remembers. And once when some boys were shouting ‘Swing! Swing!’ upon the playground, ’Becca said ‘Swing!’ quite clearly, as if she caught some vibration of the sound.”

“I should think she could be taught to speak again by and by.” Olive looked hopeful. “Come out of your dreamland, Jessica,” she added laughingly; “stick to Rebecca and the playground plan! Whenever you’re in the library, morning, noon or night, you’re staring at that stained-glass window. I believe you’ve fallen in love with the young scribe who’s bending over a parchment book in it.”

“No, but I’m in love with his brown robe.” Jessica’s eyes went up to the rich gold-brown of the young monk’s habit. “I’ve just been trying to get something like that tint on my palette up-stairs, so as to paint the ceremonial dress on the figure of a Camp Fire Girl. Besides”—the blue-grey eyes of Morning-Glory rested reverently upon the soft radiance of the painted window through which the daylight flickered, glorified—“besides, as you know, Olive, my father was a stained-glass artist; he designed beautiful windows like that, worked out his designs in water-colors on paper and afterward—when the great sheet of glass had been properly prepared—painted the window itself—oil-painting, using metallic paints.”

“Is that how it’s done?” queried Olive. “I love this library window. And I like to study the stained-glass windows in church, too—sometimes I forget to say my prayers when I’m looking at them!” in merry penitence.

“I, too! My father used to paint the saints’ and cherubs’ heads so beautifully, painting both sides of the glass, the figure in some dull tint, brown or grey, on the right side, to face the people and the brilliant, the illuminating colors, as he called them, upon the back, the other side of the sheet of glass, so’s to shine through,” looking up at the translucent rays streaming through the brown monkish figure.

“Did you use to watch him while he was painting?”

“Occasionally I did, perched on a chair beside his tall, oblong easel that had the glass upon it.... He let me when he could, because he had it all planned out that I—too——”

The last words were very thin and low and broke off, their snapped thread being lost in the rich tangle of colors, ruby and gold, with other glories wonderfully interwoven, which bathed that corner of the room where the pictured medieval scribe sat poring over his written book.

Olive moved a little uneasily. She felt uncomfortable when Jessica spoke of her father, because, having lost a mother herself, she understood what bereavement meant, but to lose both parents, as the other girl had done, to have absolutely no nearer living relative than Cousin Anne, related to Jessica through her mother’s mother as she was to Olive through her father’s father; that was terrible, indeed!

Therefore out of her fidgetings Olive evolved a remark which led away from the glorious window and stained glass in general.

“Do you know, I think that it was just too awfully good of you to spend all day yesterday sewing upon that white frock for little ’Becca, the dumb child,” she said with girlish gush.

“Oh! that was nothing; I enjoyed doing it. Cousin Anne deserves more than half the praise; ’twas she who bought the material; I—I didn’t have the money!”

Jessica spoke rather absent-mindedly, her gaze still wavering between the ruby window-nook and Olive.

“What!” breathed the latter. “Oh, you poor dear! Jessica, Father never thought of it, I’m sure, but I’m going to drop a hint to him, this very day, that he might make you a monthly allowance for pocket-money, now that you’ve come to live with us for a year or two, just as he does with Sybil and me. Oh-h! you wouldn’t like it, eh?” in crestfallen echo.

“Olive!” The Morning-Glory’s arms fell limply to her sides. Her skin, naturally clear and colorless as a pure white specimen of her name-flower, looked wan in the gold and crimson shafts of light streaming from the stained window. “Oh-h! Olive, I wouldn’t have you do that, hint anything—not for the world. Oh, don’t you think I feel it enough—that I——”

The gusty words splashed through the first drops of a tear-fall so sudden that it seemed as if the rainbowed colors had begun to drip.

A wet and crumpled-up Morning-Glory, all draggled upon its vine of girlish courage, dropped into a library chair, turning a streaming face to hide against the leather chair-back.

“Oh, honey, I never—meant——” came brokenly from Olive.

“I know—I know you never meant to be anything but lovely to me!” sobbed the figure in the chair. “But, oh”—wildly weeping—“if my father or my mother could have lived! I know that your father, Olive—that Mr. Deering—invited me to come here for this last year or so that I’ll be in high school, when he had never even seen me, simply because Cousin Anne was so worried about my having nowhere—nowhere to go after Auntie (of course, she wasn’t really my auntie, only a friend of Mother’s who took me in after Mother died) sailed for China with her husband who’s a missionary. They didn’t think that China, the part that she’s going to, would be good for me!” pathetically.

“I’m sure it wouldn’t—pig-tails and Boxers and stuff!” wailed Olive helplessly, her face wet too, as if the window’s melting shafts of color dripped upon it. “There, Jessica! There, Jess darling; you know we all just love to have you with us!” perching upon the arm of the library chair, laying her beautiful dark head with the ringlet curl against the stricken brown one.

The curl tickled Jessica’s neck; impulsively she caught and kissed it, fondled it like a flower against her wet cheek.

“Yes, ev-er-ybody has been so good to me,” she gasped, reviving enough for heartfelt emphasis. “You’ve shared things with me, Sybil and you; and Cousin Anne insists on giving me a little pocket-money from time to time, just as she gives me clothes—she’s so dear!—and just as she’s insisting on paying my camp-board in that seashore camp, so that I may have the fun of going with the other girls to those beautiful Sugarloaf sand-dunes.”

Sugarloaf! Never did sugar-lump drop into a tart cup with more ameliorating sweetness than dropped that word, now, into the troubled waters pulsing to and fro between the girls’ hearts, although it breathed of brine, not sugar.

Olive started, sat up straight upon the chair-arm. She had thought of more words to conjure with, to win back joy or, at any rate, distract from sorrow.

“Jessica!” she said solemnly, “I’ve got a teeter-ladder in my brain. Ever since we visited the playground that day I’ve had a teeter-ladder in my head.”

Jessica choked upon the next sob which mixed itself up with her startled breath. Her nose ceased burrowing in the leather nest of a chair-button. She sat up and turned her face round.

“Oh! you needn’t stare at me; I’m not going out of my mind; I haven’t got a giant stride there, too,” laughingly. “But the ladder keeps seesawing all the time; it’s like a game of ‘Jenkins: Hands up! Hands down!’ One minute the ladder teeters down toward the Sugarloaf, and the hotel, that Father proposed our going to this summer, Sybil and I, is away up in the air, with the teacher of modern dancing from whom we’re to take lessons, crowing on top: Cock-a-doodle-doo! Tooraloo! Like that!

“Next minute down with the hotel—up with the Sugarloaf and the Camp Fire Girls dancing the Leaf Dance among the white dunes!”

Olive had stars in the dreamy black of her eyes, now; they were gazing far away.

“What on earth do you mean: not that you’re thinking of becoming a Camp Fire Girl—joining our Morning-Glory Camp Fire? Oh, you know how I’ve wanted you to do that, Olive!” A little lightning-spurt of excitement flashed through Jessica’s tears. “Oh, Sugarloaf and sugarloons!” she gasped, shaky laughter beginning to patter like crystal hail through the rain-drops, the end of the shower. “Why, ’twould just be sugar through and through that camping trip if Sybil and you should come with us.”

“I’m not so sure of that,” Olive shook her head sagely. “If I were to try my hand at the camp cooking, I’m afraid the effects would be bitter, not sweet,” with a grimace. “You know Father says that my cookery ought to be tried first on the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals before any member of the animal kingdom should be allowed to partake of it!” Here, even the satiny ringlet curling down Olive’s white neck on to the shoulder of her white dress laughed—she clung to that black curl since she put her hair up, for good, six months before.

“I suppose that if Mother had lived I’d have learned to do a great many things that I don’t know much about now,” she went on softly. “Cook never wanted us in the kitchen; so we stayed out of it. Cousin Anne says that I’m not a bit ‘domestic.’ But sometimes”—the dark eyes shone wistfully—“something just swells up so big in me that I feel as if I shall simply burst if I don’t get it out of my system!” becoming, in turn, tragically confidential. “I’ve tried working it off in the rhymes that Sybil laughs at; I persuaded Father to let me take painting lessons outside of school-hours, but I don’t believe I’ll ever paint anything that a cow would care to look at,” laughing ruefully, “whatever you may do! Cook (you know she cooked for Father and Mother before I was born and she’s Irish) saw one of my pictures and I heard her say to herself: ‘Tear an’ ages! looks as if that old guinea-hen had got some paint on her claws and scratched on the paper.’ Truth and honor! that’s what she did say!”

Jessica was now laughing spasmodically, the bright drops upon her eyelashes winking at the other girl’s gropings after self-expression.

“All I can do, it seems to me, is, as I heard Captain Andy singing to himself last night during part of the Council Fire program, to:
“‘Laugh a little and sing a little,
And work a little and play a little,
And fiddle a little and foot it a little,
As bravely as I can!’”

Olive laughingly footed it round the library, burlesquing her own limitations. “And I don’t know whether I could even ‘foot it’ very far if it came to a tramp,” she said over her shoulder. “Goodness! since Sybil and I have used the automobile so much, as Father drives himself in the smaller car, I don’t even ‘sing the song of feet’ except when I play tennis or go round the golf course with Dad.... Perhaps, if I joined the Camp Fire Girls, I might grow a few new wing-feathers, as Captain Andy wants his little niece to do—the niece that moons in an orchard and goes round with a pet pig and a duck for followers—she must be awfully ‘witchetty,’ eh?”

“I should think so!” came from a now smiling Morning-Glory in the leather chair.

“Gracious! there’s the luncheon bell and we must get through with the meal as quickly as we can if we’re to carry out your plan, Jess, of getting to the playground and dressing up little ’Becca before the teachers get back and the folk-dancing begins.”

“Oh! I must run and bathe my face.” Jessica made for the library-door in a flurry. “First—first, I want to hug you, Olive. And you won’t think, will you, that I’m not just too awfully grateful to you all for making me so—so happy here?

“It was meddling with Papa’s old paint-box this morning that broke me all up,” added the seventeen-year-old girl to herself, dashing up the broad staircase which she had descended a little while ago, to her own room. “That, and thinking of how I used sometimes to sit by him when he was painting a saint’s head on glass for some beautiful window!” (A vigorous splash with a cold sponge.) “Mother said he ran to Saints’ Heads!” (Splash and choke!) “And he used to say that I inherited his talent and love of color and that girls were taking up stained-glass work—window-painting—now, making a success of it, too. I only wish I could!” (Splash, splash, splash, and a girl forcing a dripping sponge into her mouth, to drown a returning sob, because she felt that it would not be “game” to depress with tears or the semblance of them the midday meal of those who had generously given her a home!) “And, whatever comes, I’ve got to be as brave as my great-gran’daddy!” she gasped the next minute, through her set teeth, glancing at a small table, on which, beside the disturbing paint-box, lay an old-fashioned, oval leather case, with a tarnished gold stripe round its edge.

Towel in hand, Jessica impulsively sprang toward the table, touched a spring and disclosed a small miniature, older still than the case, painted on ivory, set in gold, showing a face which, if the artist of ninety-odd years ago painted truly, was very like the Morning-Glory one now hanging over it: the same crest of light brown hair over the forehead, the same naturally laughing grey-blue eyes. “My mother’s grandfather, Captain Josiah Dee, you were a very handsome young man when that miniature was painted, let me tell you!” she gurgled, biting upon a corner of the damask towel in a fighting attempt to regain composure by forcing her thoughts to dwell lightly for a minute upon the manly shoulders in the blue coat with brass buttons and the high stock-collar under a dimpled chin—her own had a dimple like it! “You have such a living smile; you always seem to be alive and laughing at me when I feel blue! Well! You saved lots of lives when you commanded a big ship, but were drowned, yourself, at last. I must be as brave as you were! And, great-gran’daddy dear, let me tell you, too, I’m not altogether alone, because I’ve got Cousin Anne and I’m a Camp Fire Girl—and Olive’s a dear; wouldn’t she be a dream—just a Camp Fire Girl’s dream—in a ceremonial dress and beaded head-band, with her black hair in two long plaits and her dark eyes?”

The oval case shut with a click.

Olive’s hair and eyes looked as dreamily beautiful in a simple white dress as they would have done in gold-brown khaki when, three-quarters of an hour later, she wended her way, together with four other girls, toward that poor and crowded quarter of the city of Clevedon whose tall factory chimneys enshrined the public playground—largely a garden of foreign buds—whither their steps were bent.

Yet not one of her companions envied that hair its raven lustre or the grace of the small head it crowned, for if they were not all four beauties, at least they were true daughters of Columbia who, fair herself, seldom or never hatches an ugly duckling.

There was one point of envy among them, so far as Sally, Betty, and Arline were concerned—the glass buttons on Jessica’s blouse!

“Oh! those ‘Wohelo’ heart-shaped buttons!” Sally’s eyes and the July sky-beams together picked out the decorative W—she was sure it meant to be a W—within the blue heart of glass. “And that white blouse with the blue facings—it just brings out the color of your eyes, ‘Glory,’” calling Jessica, the oldest of the quintette, by the name which, growing out of an incident, had clung to her in childhood, to blossom later into her Camp Fire title.

“Cousin Anne gave it to me on my birthday and my lavender smock frock, too; I made the lavender Tam myself.” The Morning-Glory was utterly smiling again, forgetting even the brass buttons on the coat of her great-grandfather, the only relative besides Cousin Anne who seemed to her, in a way, to live and preside over her girlhood, forgetting them and him in that jolliest of youth’s experiences, to be abroad with a small band of admiring individuals of its own age and sex.

Looking back, mentally, she saw that seventeenth birthday, separated from her only by a hand-span of fourteen days, standing in the way and smiling at her, not yet hidden by any curve in the highroad of life nor blotted out by any startling event.

Looking forward, literally, she saw a different vision in ugly contrast to delicate smock and Wohelo blouse: a vision that at a distance suggested nothing so strongly as a bedizened magpie.

“Who’s that swinging on the garden gate?” burst forth Betty.

“Oh! it’s that girl with the funny surname—‘Tingle,’ isn’t it—who entered high school last January.” The pretty shell-pink tints of Arline’s complexion—her strong point—deepened with disfavor as she looked ahead at the restless gate, one of a scattered row decorating one side of a raw new street whose lately erected dwellings faced depressingly upon vacant lots, piles of sand and earth, a wheelbarrow or two, and the gaping bones of skeleton houses.

“Yes, and if ever there was a surname invented that rang true to life, it’s that one—so far as she’s concerned!” Sally, throwing up her eyes, rose to a dramatic outburst. “Penelope Tingle! Just think of it! And she gives you the ‘tingles’ all over when you come within a yard of her. The ‘Black and White Warbler’ some of the high school boys who are interested in bird-study call her, because her voice is so high an’ thin an’ wiry and her laugh like a hiss.”

“Her clothes would set me tingling worse than her voice; they talk to you before ever you get near her!” Olive’s nostrils quivered.

“Hush! we’re almost upon her—and the white gate,” came from Jessica.

“Hul-lo-a! Hullo! Sal-ly.” The voice which rang out from that swinging gate as the quintette of girls ranged abreast of it had at this moment more of the stinging quality of a blue jay’s when it wakes one at sunrise than of any species of warbler; the Tingle girl’s clothing must partly have inspired the boys’ nickname: black and white of the loudest upright stripes upon the swinging skirt, black and white in brindled circles on the too visible expanse of stockings, enlivened by a wisp of a rose-colored girdle and an old-rose felt hat with a tarnished quill.

These latter touches of color being a trifle faded had the dejected air of not being able to vie with the thick ruddiness of Penelope’s wrists which clung to the gate-bars and the florid hue of her plump cheeks.

“Hullo-o, Sally! Is—is it ‘nobody home’ this morning? Don’t you want to speak to me?” challenged the jay-like voice, as Penelope’s face hung out over the gate.

At this the golden firefly in Sally’s eyes wheeled doubtfully, now toward that raw, new white gate, now toward Olive: Olive, whose father was a very important personage, indeed, and her father’s employer at the Works; Olive, who had plainly inherited the flower of good breeding, nourished in the soil of wealth. And reading a contempt for Tingles and tingling voices in Olive’s face, little horse-loving Sally, who generally could be the best kind of a small sportswoman, figuratively gathered her garments (neat and trim as when she was mounted, from her simple whip-cord skirt to her Camp Fire Girl’s knockabout hat) about her and, like the priest and Levite of old, passed by on the other side, leaving Penelope to her wounding manners and with a bruise in her heart.

All of which means that she returned Penelope’s vociferous greeting with a stiff nod only suited to the inside of an ice-house!

The Tingle girl ceased swinging as if petrified and stared after her; then she burst into a high shriek of exasperated laughter and hailed a boy upon a vacant lot across the street.

“Hullo! Rolie,” she cried, “do you know that there’s a frost this morning; it froze hard here just now,” pointing her slangy sarcasm by a red forefinger leveled at Sally’s receding back.

“Ss-sh! you’re crazy,” expostulated the lad who wore a Boy Scout suit.

“If I’m ‘crazy,’ you’re hazy—hazy in the brain! He! He! He! Hi! Ha!” The retort and the shrill laughter followed the quintette of girls down the street.

“Isn’t she dreadful?” gasped fair little Betty who had named the Morning-Glory Camp Fire. “I should think she is one big tingle; henceforth I’ll feel her a mile off!”

“Perfectly horrid!” acquiesced Olive.

Sally’s under-lip suddenly quivered; one of her lightning changes of mood breezed up in her, almost wafting her back toward the gate; she felt the same twinge of penitence that occasionally nipped her for having once lightly denounced Olive and her sister Sybil as “all fluff and stuff,” chiefly because, hitherto, they had taken little notice of her, when, now, she was forced to admit that Olive’s inner fabric was anything but unduly “fluffy.”

“Perhaps it’s not Penelope’s fault that she’s like that,” she put forward slowly. “The Tingles haven’t been long in the city and they come to our church, so my mother went to call on Mrs. Tingle—she’s not the tingling sort at all; she’s a very nice, refined woman—but isn’t it strange she has the very same affliction, in a way, as that deaf-and-dumb child whom we’re going to see now?” glancing at a white parcel under Jessica’s arm. “She’s absolutely deaf, too, having lost her hearing after an illness, and is losing her speech, also, so that she has to write things down for callers. Mother said that she lacked the very sense that would enable her to correct Penelope’s manners. But the funny part of it is,” ran on Sally volubly, “that she said Pen—Penny, as she calls her—was her right hand about the house, working so hard—since her father lost money lately—and managing her young brothers so well.”

“Imagine it! There must be two Pennies, then, one of brass, the other of gold,” laughed Jessica.

“Yes, when Mother told all that to the Guardian of our Camp Fire, Miss Dewey, she said it was too bad that Penelope shouldn’t have her hard duties touched up and made interesting by winning honor-beads for them and that she was going to invite her to join our Morning-Glory Camp Fire—there’s no Camp Fire circle at the church that Pen and I attend. Miss Dewey thinks that it would tone her down a lot to wear a ceremonial dress and sing stately songs, with mystic motions.”

“Goodness! you might as well try to make a parrot pray,” interjected Betty.

“I don’t know—now!” This from the Rainbow, Arline. “Don’t you remember, Sally, how you and I felt about a year ago when we were just fifteen”—with a great air of maturity—“we felt awkward and as if nobody loved us,” plaintively; “we didn’t know whether to put our hair up or not; we felt too old to run and play with the boys as we used to do——”

“You won’t feel that way when you’re eighteen; I’ll soon be young enough for it again,” put in Morning-Glory sagely.

“And yet we weren’t old enough to do as our older sisters and friends did, receive formal calls from boys and have them invite us very prettily to go to places!” Thus the Rainbow again took up the chant of a fifteen-year-old girl’s problems, ending with this Jubilate: “’Twas then that ‘Camp Fire’ came in so well, wasn’t it? Since it took hold of us, six months ago, we’ve been just so busy doing new things, dressing up and winning honors, that we haven’t had time to think of ourselves at all. Maybe Penelope is at the awkward age, too, without any home help such as we had.”

“Maybe so! Let’s drop the tingling penny now, anyway!” suggested Betty with a chuckle. “Arline says she feels too old to race with boys as she used to do, but whether we run with them or not, we’ll run into them, I expect, when we go camping this summer, for Captain Andy says that there’s a Boy Scout Camp on some other sand-dunes, just across the river from the Sugarloaf, with harbor seals and breakers an’ quicksands and all sorts of queer obstacles between them and us!”

“Too bad! Boys come in handy, sometimes, when you fish off the rocks with a pole and don’t want to handle the bait,” suggested Sally reflectively.

“I hear that there will be two Boy Scout troops in that camp,” discoursed Betty again, “one from the neighborhood of this city and one from that wild tidal river an’ bay region where we’re going; the Scoutmasters are cousins. Well! here we are at the playground now.”

“Tired, Olive?” Jessica linked her arm tenderly through Olive Deering’s; that library scene had drawn them very close together.

“No-o,” answered Olive absent-mindedly, hardly hearing her own monosyllable because of the swish of that teeter-ladder of indecision in her brain, now seesawing at a gallop: “If that tingling Penelope should join the Morning-Glory Camp Fire and go with these other girls to the camp on the Sugarloaf dunes, I sha’n’t; Sybil and I will go to that big, beautiful hotel and simply amuse ourselves!” So thought said. And so she left it, with the hotel swinging on high, a dizzy castle in the air.

“Oh! here’s that funny little Jacob, who’s ‘all de olds in de world,’ running to meet us,” cried Morning-Glory meanwhile. “I hope we’ll find poor little silent ’Becca as easily; ’twill be such fun to dress her up and ‘make her over’ before the teachers get back to the playground, after dinner, and the afternoon dancing begins!” hugging her tissue-paper parcel, containing the white frock in which every stitch had been set by her own patient fingers, together with the buckled shoes, Olive’s gift.

Jacob of the raven locks seemed almost as much excited as when the horse bolted with the playground piano: his small brown fingers clutched the hem of his hanging blouse.

“Ha! we haf de big fire las’ night to our house,” he proclaimed. “My babee”—pointing to the insect-like infant whom Sally had saved from being trampled by stopping the playground horse—“my babee she get a match an’ de pape’ an’ she wipe dem on de wall an’ de fire come. An’ w’en de big mans w’at make de fire out shay: ‘Who make dis fire?’ my babee she shay: ‘Me! Me! Me!’”

“What a depraved little ‘firebug’—isn’t that the police word? Sorry I saved her!” exclaimed Sally.

Jessica did not linger for Jacob’s dramatic recital; she was walking on over the broad public playground, past the Silver Twins and the flowering catalpa tree on the edge of whose island of shade she had called the Bluebird through a dumb child’s window, on toward the great, gleaming bathing-pool—that artificial sheet of shallow water—in an eager search for little ’Becca.

By her side ran a self-constituted escort, a strange, foreign child whom she had not seen before, catching with elfin fingers at the silver bracelet, the Fire Maker’s bracelet, last night received, on Jessica’s wrist.

“Ach! you haf de prit-ty br-racelet,” murmured the little foreigner’s guttural accents. “I haf de br-racelet-te, too, to my home. I haf de gol’ necklace to my home. I haf de pink silk stocking; I haf de blue silk stocking”—thrusting forward, first, one thin leg, then the other, in coarse and faded cotton. “I haf de lots of ice-cr-ream to my home!”

“Poor little thing; she probably hasn’t got a single one of them!” The Morning-Glory’s eyes were misty as she looked down upon the small braggart.

“Where are you going?” shrieked Jacob after her.

“To the moon!” she answered absently, looking steadily ahead, searching the feathery edges of the wide bathing-pool in which some barelegged children were paddling for little ’Becca in the out-at-toe shoes and coarse grey frock, in order to transform her into something like a stout fairy, before the folk-dancing should begin.

“To de—moon? Take me!” screamed Jacob, all agog for any excursion in such good company.

Was it from the moon—the now invisible Thunder Moon of July—or from the edge of some far planet of gloom that the sudden cry came, a cry with a note of menace in it, of sobbing horror, of fear, wiping out Jacob’s childish plea from the face of the sunshine?

A cry in the guttural accents, the broken English that attacked the girls’ ears everywhere on this playground!

A cry that mocked the fragrance of the pyramidal catalpa blossoms and blanched the rainbowed fountain at the heart of the bathing-pool until it frowned like a specter!

“’Becca!” gasped Jessica, flattening her soft parcel against her heaving breast. “’Becca!” She knew not why she said it.



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