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Title: Mary Rose of Mifflin
Author: Sterrett, Frances R.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Rose of Mifflin" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



MARY ROSE OF MIFFLIN

by

FRANCES R. STERRETT

Author of
The "Jam Girl" and "Up the Road with Sallie"

Illustrated by Maginel Wright Enright



[Frontispiece: "'It's an e-normous house, isn't it!' she said in
surprise"]



New York
Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers

Copyright, 1910, by
D. Appleton and Company



TO THE MEMORY OF

MY FATHER AND MY MOTHER


WHO MADE A VERY FRIENDLY

PLACE IN THIS BIG WORLD



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"'It's an e-normous house, isn't it!' she said
  in surprise" . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

"'You can't ever know, Aunt Kate, how splendid
  it is to wear skirts'"

"Shelves and birdcage had all disappeared"

"'I haven't seen a canary bird for years,' she murmured"

"'It's a squirrel! A really truly squirrel in this big city!'"

"Mary Rose was perched on a chair across from him and was
  telling him of Mifflin"

"There on the wide window seat was the self-supporting cat"

"'Why didn't you come home before, Mary Rose?'
  Miss Thorley asked"



MARY ROSE OF MIFFLIN


CHAPTER I

"It's there in every lease, plain as print," Larry Donovan insisted.
"No childern, no dogs an' no cats.  It's in every lease."

"I don't care if it is!"  Kate Donovan's face was as red as a poppy and
she spoke with a determination that exactly matched her husband's.
"You needn't think I'm goin' to turn away my own sister's only child?
Who should take care of her if I don't?  Tell me that, Larry Donovan,
an' be ashamed of yourself for askin' me to send her away!"

"Sure, an' I'd like the little thing here as much as you, Kate, dear,"
Larry said soothingly, and in her heart Mrs. Donovan knew that he meant
it.  "But it isn't every day that a man picks up a job like this,
janitor of a swell apartmen' buildin', an' if we take in a kid when the
lease says plain as can be, no childern, no dogs an' no cats, I'll lose
the job an' then how'll I put a roof over your heads an' bread in your
stomachs?  That's why I'm again' it."

"A clever man like you'll find a way."  Mrs. Donovan's confidence was
both flattering and stimulating.  If a woman expects her husband to do
things he just has to do them.  He has no choice.  "Don't you worry.
You haven't been out of work since we were married 'cept the three
months you was laid up with inflamm't'ry rheumatiz.  The way I look at
it is this: the good Lord must have meant us to have Mary Rose or he
wouldn't have taken her mother an' her father an' all her relations but
us.  Seems if he didn't send us any of our own so we'd have plenty of
room in our hearts an' home for her.  She's a present to us straight
from the Lord."

"That may be, Kate," Larry scratched his puzzled head.  "But will the
agents, will Brown an' Lawson look at it that way?  The lease says----"

"Bother the lease!" Mrs. Donovan interrupted him impatiently.  "What's
the lease got to do with a slip of a girl who's been left an orphan
down in Mifflin?"

"That's just what I'm tryin' to tell you."  Larry clung to his temper
with all of his ten fingers, for it was irritating to have her refuse
to understand.  "If we took Mary Rose in here to live don't you s'pose
all those up above," he jerked his thumb significantly toward the
ceiling, "'d know it an' make trouble?  God knows they make enough as
it is.  They're a queer lot of folks under this roof, Kate, and that's
no lie.  Folks--they're cranks!" explosively.  "When one isn't findin'
fault another is.  When I've heat enough for ol' Mrs. Johnson it's too
hot for Mrs. Bracken.  Mrs. Schuneman on the first floor has too much
hot water an' Miss Adams on the third too little.  Mrs. Rawson won't
stand for Mrs. Matchan's piano an' Mrs. Matchan kicks on Mrs. Rawson's
sewin' machine.  Mr. Jarvis never gets his newspaper an' Mrs. Lewis
al'ys gets two.  Mrs. Willoughby jumps on me if a pin drops in the
hall.  She can't stand no noise since her mother died.  She don't do
nothin' but cry.  I don't blame her man for stayin' away.  I'd as soon
be married to a fountain.  When they can't find anythin' else to jaw me
about they take the laundries.  An' selfish!  There isn't one can see
beyond the reach of his fingers.  I used to think that folks were put
into the world to be friendly an' helpful to each other but I've
learned different."  He sighed and shook his head helplessly.  "Mrs.
Bracken on the first floor has lived here as long as we have, two years
nex' October, an' I've yet to hear her give a friendly word to anyone
in the house.  When little Miss Smith up on the third was sick las'
winter did her nex' door neighbor lend a hand?  She did not.  She was
just worried stiff for fear she'd catch somethin'.  She gave me no
peace till Miss Smith was out of the house an' into a hospital.  Peace!
I've forgot there was such a word.  They won't stand for any kid in the
house when the lease says no childern, no dogs an' no cats."

"You can't tell me anythin' about _them_!" Mrs. Donovan agreed with
pleasant promptness.  It is always agreeable to have one's estimate of
human nature endorsed.  "An' the most of 'em look like thunder clouds
when you meet 'em.  Ain't it queer, Larry, how few folks look happy
when a smile's 'bout the cheapest thing a body can wear?  An' it never
goes out of style.  I know I never get tired seein' one on old or
young.  All folks can't be rich nor han'some but most of us could look
pleasant if we thought so, seems if.  I want to tell that to little
Miss Macy every time I see her, but I know full well she'd say I was
impudent, so I keep my mouth shut.  Maybe the tenants won't stand for a
child in the house.  They haven't wit to see that the Lord had his good
reasons when he invented the fam'ly.  But there's some way.  There must
be!  An' we've got to find it, Larry Donovan.  Are you goin' to wash
Mrs. Rawson's windows today?"  She changed the subject abruptly.  "She
called me up twice yesterday to see they needed it, as if I had nothin'
to do but traipse aroun' after her."

Larry understood exactly how she felt.  He had been called up more than
twice to see the windows and had promised to clean them within
twenty-four hours.  Before he went away he patted his wife's shoulder
and said again: "It isn't that I don't want the little thing here,
Kate.  She'd be good for both of us.  It's bad for folks to grow old
'thout young ones growin' up around 'em, but a job's a job.  It
wouldn't be easy for a man to get another as good as this at this time
of year.  See the home it gives you."

He looked proudly around the pleasant basement living-room.  Open doors
led into the dining-room and hall from which more doors opened into
kitchen and sleeping-rooms.  There was a small room at the end of the
hall in which Mrs. Donovan kept her sewing machine but for which, in
the last twenty-four hours, she had found another use.  The apartment
was very comfortable and Mrs. Donovan kept it as neat as wax.  There
was never any dust on her floors if the fault-finding tenants did say
there was in the halls.

Mrs. Donovan was proud of her home also, but she frowned as she glanced
about her.  "There's plenty of room for one more," she grumbled.  "That
little room beyond ours is just the place for a child.  But go on,
Larry, we'll think of a way.  We've got to!  It shan't ever be said
that Kate Donovan turned away her only sister's only child.  Do you
mind when Mary married Sam Crocker?  It was thought to be a big step up
for the daughter of an Irish carpenter to marry a Crocker, the son of
ol' Judge Crocker an' a lawyer himself.  Seems if there never was a
prettier girl than Mary an' she was happy till she died.  An' now Sam's
dead, too.  He wasn't the man his father was.  He couldn't keep money
an' he couldn't earn it.  Mary used to feel sorry for me, Larry,
because you weren't a Crocker, but if she could see us now an', seems
if, I believe she can, she mus' be glad I got a good honest hard
workin' Irishman.  You've a good job an' a little money in the bank.
You don't owe no man a penny.  That's more'n Sam Crocker could ever say
an' tell the truth!"

For two years Larry Donovan had been the proud janitor of the
Washington Apartment House.  He had moved in before the building was
fairly completed and felt that it belonged to him quite as much as to
the owner, whose name he did not know, for all business was transacted
through the rental agents, Brown and Lawson.

It was an attractive building.  The center of the red brick front, with
its rather ornate entrance, was pushed back some ten feet.  The
rectangular space that was left was neatly bisected by the cement walk.
On either side were grassy squares, like pocket handkerchiefs, man's
size, with clumps of shrubbery in the corners for monograms.  The
Washington was long and broad and low, not more than three stories
high, but it had an air of comfort and also of pretension that was
lacking in many of the taller apartment houses whose shoulders it could
not begin to touch.  Under the low roof were some twenty apartments of
different sizes and the occupant of each was bound by lease not to
introduce a child nor a cat nor a dog.  No one showed the least desire
to introduce any one of the three but each went his way and insisted on
his full rights with a selfish disregard of the rights and conveniences
of others in a way that at first had made Larry Donovan's mouth pop
wide open in amazement.  Even now that he was used to it he was often
surprised.

And to the Washington with its lease forbidding children and pets had
come a letter from Mifflin telling of the sudden death of Mrs.
Donovan's brother-in-law.  Samuel Crocker had been an unsuccessful man,
as the world counts success, and had left nothing behind him but his
little daughter, Mary Rose.

"It's her age that's again' her," thought Mrs. Donovan, when she was
alone.  "If she were a couple of years older there couldn't be any
objection.  Well, for the lan's sakes!"  Her face broke into a broad
grin.  "There isn't any reason why we should--nobody need ever know,"
she murmured cryptically.

Ten minutes later she was busy in the little room at the end of the
hall.  When Larry came back he stumbled over the machine she had pushed
out of her way.

"Hullo," he said.  "What's up?"

Mrs. Donovan lifted a smiling face.  "I'm gettin' ready."

"For what?" he asked stupidly.

"For my niece, Mary Rose Crocker."  She turned around and stood before
him, a scrub-cloth in her hand.

Larry frowned.  "I thought we'd finished with that, Kate.  I told you
about the leases.  You'll have to board Mary Rose in Mifflin or send
her to a convent."

"Board!"  The scrub-doth, a very banner of defiance, was waved an inch
in front of his nose.  "Board out my own niece, a kid of eleven?  I
think I see myself, Larry Donovan.  An' aren't you ashamed to have such
thoughts, you, a decent man?  A little thing that needs a mother's
care.  An' who should give it to her but me, her own aunt?  The Lord
had his plans when he took away all her other relations an' I ain't one
to interfere."

"It means the loss of my job," objected Larry sullenly.

"It does not."  There was another flourish of the scrub-cloth.  "Listen
to me, Larry Donovan.  Is there anyone in this house 't knows how old
Mary Rose is?  Does Mrs. Bracken or that crosspatch Miss Adams or the
weepin' willow, Mrs. Willoughby, know she isn't eleven?  Who's to tell
'em if we keep our mouths shut?  It ain't none of their business
though, seems if, there isn't one that'd be beyond makin' it their
business.  I'll grant you that.  Your old lease, more shame to it, says
childern ain't allowed here.  Mary Rose is a child but if she takes
after her mother's fam'ly, an' I know in my heart she does, she'll be a
big up-standin' girl, a girl anyone 'd take for fourteen.  Maybe
fifteen.  Why, when her mother was twelve she weighed a hundred an'
twenty-five pounds.  I've known women of fifty that didn't weigh that!"
triumphantly.  "Don't you worry, Larry, dear.  I've got it all planned
out.  There's the clothes your sister left here when she an' Ella went
West las' fall.  Ella was fourteen an' her clothes 'll just fit Mary
Rose or I miss my guess.  They'll make her look every minute of
fourteen.  An' a girl of fourteen isn't a child.  Why, the state that's
again' child labor lets a girl of fourteen go to work if she can get a
permit, so we've got the law on our side.  You see how easy it is,
Larry?"  She beamed with pride at the solution she had found for the
problem that had tormented her ever since the letter had come from
Mifflin.

"Do you mean you're goin' to tell lies about your own niece?" demanded
Larry incredulously.

Mrs. Donovan looked at him sadly.  "Why should I tell lies?" she asked
sweetly.  "Sure, it's no lie to say Mary Rose is goin' on fourteen.  I
ain't denyin' it'll be some time before she gets to fourteen but she's
goin' on fourteen more'n she is on ten.  If the tenants take a wrong
meaning from my words is it my fault?  No, Larry," firmly.  "I wouldn't
tell lies for nobody an' I wouldn't let Mary Rose tell lies.  We al'ys
had our mouths well scoured out with soft soap when we didn't tell the
truth.  But it ain't no lie to say a child's goin' on fourteen when she
is."



CHAPTER II

A taxicab stopped before the Washington Apartment House and a slim
boyish little figure hopped out and stared up at the roof of the long
red brick building that towered so far above.

"It's an e-normous house, isn't it!" she said in surprise.

"Here, Mary Rose."  A hand reached out a basket and then a birdcage.
"I'll go in with you."

"You're awfully good, Mrs. Black."  Mary Rose looked at her with loving
admiration.  "Of course, I'd have come here all right by myself for
daddy always said there was a special Providence to look after children
and fools and that was why we were so well taken care of, but it
certainly did make it pleasant for me to have you come all the way."

"It certainly made it pleasant for me," Mrs. Black said, and it had.
Mary Rose was so enthusiastic on this, her first trip away from
Mifflin, that she had amused Mrs. Black, who had made the journey to
Waloo so many times that it had become nothing but a necessary bore.
She was sorry that they had arrived at Mary Rose's destination.  "Now,
where do we find your aunt?"  She, too, looked up at the red brick
building that faced them so proudly.

"My Uncle Larry's the janitor of this splendid mansion!" Mary Rose told
her joyously, although there was a trace of awe in her birdlike voice.
The mansion seemed so very, very large to her.  "Is janitor the same as
owner, Mrs. Black?  It's--it's----" she drew a deep breath as if she
found it difficult to say what it was.  "It's wonderful!  There isn't
one house in all Mifflin so big and grand, is there?  It looks more,"
she cocked her head on one side, "like the new Masonic Temple on Main
Street than anybody's home."

"So it does," agreed Mrs. Black, leading the way into the vestibule,
where she found a bell labeled "Janitor."

When Kate Donovan answered it she saw a pleasant-faced, smartly clad
woman with a child in a neat, if shabby, boy's suit of blue serge,
belted blouse over shrunken knickerbockers.  She knew at once that they
had come to look at the vacant apartment on the second floor.

"An I'll have to tell her we don't have no childern here," she said to
herself, and she sighed.  "I wish Larry had a place in a house that was
overrun with childern.  Seems if I hate to tell her how it is."

But the pleasant-faced smartly clad woman smiled at her as no
prospective tenant had ever smiled and asked sweetly: "Is this Mrs.
Donovan?"

Before Kate Donovan could admit it the boyish little figure ran to her.

"My Aunt Kate!  I know it is.  It's my Aunt Kate!"

"My soul an' body!" murmured the startled Mrs. Donovan, staring
stupidly at the child embracing her knees.

"I brought your little niece," began Mrs. Black.

"Niece!" gasped Mrs. Donovan in astonishment, for the figure at her
knees did not look like any niece she had ever seen.  "Sure, it's a
boy!"

The little face upturned to her broke into a radiant smile.  "That's
what everyone says.  But I'm not a boy, I'm not!  Am I, Mrs. Black?
I'm a girl and my name's Mary Rose and I'm almost eleven----"

"H-sh, h-sh, dearie!"  Mrs. Donovan's hand slipped over the red lips
and she sent a quick glance over her shoulder.  Bewildered and
surprised as she was she realized that her niece's age was not to be
shouted out in the vestibule of the Washington in any such joyous
fashion.  "My soul an' body," she murmured again as she looked at the
sturdy little figure in knickerbockers.  "You're Mary Rose Crocker?"
she asked doubtfully.  She almost hoped she wasn't.

"Mary Rose Crocker," repeated the red lips and the knickerbockered legs
jumped up and down.

"My soul an' body!" Mrs. Donovan murmured helplessly.  "Will you come
down to my rooms, ma'am," she said to Mrs. Black, as she tried to
remember her manners and not think how she was to tell Larry the truth.
Why, this child was undersized rather than over.  Her mother might have
weighed a hundred and twenty-five pounds when she was twelve but Mary
Rose couldn't weigh seventy.  Dear, dear, why couldn't she just as well
have been bigger?  But after one glance at the glowing little face,
Kate Donovan would have lost almost everything rather than her right to
take care of diminutive Mary Rose.

Mrs. Black smiled at her.  She liked her honest good-natured face.  It
was a shining door-plate for the big heart behind it.  She had been
rather worried over Mary Rose's only living relative, for she was fond
of Mary Rose and wanted her to have a real home.

"Thank you, but I fear I must go on.  Our train was a little late.  I
am glad to have met you and if you like Mary Rose half as much as I do
you will think you are a lucky woman to have her always with you.
Good-by, Mary Rose.  Thank you for coming with me."

Mary Rose threw her arms about her friend.  "Thank you for bringing
me," she whispered.

"Have you everything?  Her trunk is at the station and she has the
check," she explained to Mrs. Donovan.  "Good-by."  And with another
kiss for Mary Rose she was gone.  They could hear the purr of the
taxicab as it dashed up the street.

Mary Rose drew a deep breath.  "It's very pleasant to get to the end of
a journey," she began a trifle tremulously.  Mary Rose was beginning to
feel a bit forlorn at being left alone with an aunt she had never seen
before.  "Mrs. Black's a very kind lady and she brought me here in a
taxicab.  It's very pleasant riding in a taxicab."

"I've no doubt it is," remarked Mrs. Donovan, who knew taxicabs only by
sight.  "Now, Mary Rose, we'll go down to my rooms.  Is this your
canary?"  She looked oddly at the bird-cage.

"Yes, that's Jennie Lind.  I couldn't leave her behind and Mrs. Black
said you'd be sure to have room for her, for all she needs is a window
to hang in and everybody has at least one window.  Your house is very
large, isn't it?" admiringly.  "It makes me think of a palace, although
it is something like the new Masonic Temple in Mifflin.  Do you live in
the cellar?" she asked in astonishment as her aunt led the way down the
basement stairs.  "I've never lived in a cellar before.  In Mifflin our
cellar had only room for jellies and pickles and a closet for
vegetables, turnips and parsnips, you know."

"This isn't a cellar," she was told rather sharply.  "It's a basement."

"Oh!"  Mary Rose tried to see the difference between a cellar and a
basement and had little difficulty, for nothing could have been more
different from the little Mifflin cellar with its swinging shelf for
preserves and pickles, its dark closet for vegetables, than Aunt Kate's
basement apartment.  The sun streamed into the windows, only half of
which were below the level of the street, and the rooms looked very
bright and pleasant to tired Mary Rose.

"It's--it's very pleasant," she said.  "But do you always live down
here?"  She couldn't understand why her aunt should choose rooms in the
cellar when she had such a large house.

Her aunt did not answer her but asked a question of her own.  "Mary
Rose, what makes you dress like that, like a boy?"  She couldn't
imagine why.

Mary Rose regarded her small person with a blush and a frown.  "I know.
Isn't it horrid?  I'd lots rather wear girls' clothes, but you see
these saved washing, and Lena, who took care of daddy and me, made a
fuss about the washing almost every week, so daddy said boys' clothes
were pleasanter than arguments.  Aunt Kate," her voice was tragic, "I'm
'most eleven years old and I haven't ever had a white dress with a blue
sash in all my life.  I never even had a hair ribbon!"

"My soul an' body!" murmured Aunt Kate, and derived no more
satisfaction from the exclamation than she had the other times she had
used it.

"Don't you think boys should wear boys' clothes and girls girls'
clothes, Aunt Kate?  Of course, if you have to think of the washing,
too, I won't say a word and I'll try to be happy in these.  But I do
hate them.  I think little girls' clothes are beautiful.  All my life
I've wanted a white dress with lace on it and a blue sash.  Gladys
Evans has one.  She wore it at the church social.  I spoke a piece and
I had to wear these ugly clothes.  It hurt my pride awful but daddy
said that was because I didn't look at it right, that if I had the
right kind of an eye I'd see washing in a white dress instead of
beauty.  But I guess it's hard to see right when you haven't ever had
anything but boys' clothes.  Oh, Aunt Kate!" she put her arms around
her aunt.  "I do think that it is good of you to want me to live with
you.  You're the only relation I have out of Heaven.  I don't quite
understand about that, when Gladys Evans has four sisters and a brother
and three aunts and two uncles and a pair of grandfathers and even one
grandmother.  It doesn't seem just fair, does it?  But I think you're
nicer than all of hers put together.  One of her aunts is cross-eyed
and another lives in California and one of her uncles is stingy," she
whispered.  "You--you're beautiful!"  And she hugged her again.

Mrs. Donovan dropped weakly into a chair and her arms went around Mary
Rose.  She had never realized how empty they had been until they
enclosed Mary Rose.

"You didn't say anything about bringing my friends with me," went on
Mary Rose happily, "but of course I couldn't leave Jenny Lind and
George Washington behind.  George Washington has the same name as your
house," she gurgled.  "Wouldn't you like to see him?"  She slipped from
her aunt's arms to the chair where she had put her basket.  There had
been sundry angry upheavals of the cover but it was tightly tied with a
stout string.  Mrs. Donovan had scarcely noticed it.  She had been too
bewildered to see anything but Mary Rose.

Mary Rose untied the basket cover but before she could raise it a big
maltese cat had pushed it aside and jumped to the floor and stood
stretching himself in front of Mrs. Donovan's horrified eyes.

"Mary Rose!" she cried.  It was all she could say.

"Isn't he a beauty?"  Mary Rose turned shining eyes to her as she
patted her pet.  "I've had him ever since he was a weeny kitten.  Mrs.
Campbell gave him to me when I had the tonsilitis.  We adore each
other.  You see his mother is dead and so is mine.  We're both orphans."

And she caught the orphaned George Washington to her and hugged him.
"I've a dog, too, but I left him in Mifflin."

"Thank God for that," murmured Mrs. Donovan under her breath.

"His name is Solomon," went on Mary Rose.  "He was such a wise little
puppy that daddy said he should have a wise name.  The superintendent
of schools made out a list for me and I copied each one on a separate
piece of paper and let the puppy take his choice.  He took Solomon and
daddy said he showed his sense for Solomon was the very wisest of all.
But that shows just how smart Solomon was even as a puppy.  Jimmie
Bronson's taking care of him until I send for him.  He said he'd just
as soon I never sent, but of course I will as soon as I can.  Do you
see Jenny Lind, George Washington?"  She took the cat's head in her
hands and turned it to the cage in which Jenny Lind hopped restlessly.
"They aren't the friends I'd like them to be," she explained almost
apologetically to her aunt.  "Sometimes it worries me.  Dear me, I wish
I could have a talk with Noah!  Don't you often wonder how he managed
in the ark?  It must have been hard with cats and mice and snakes and
birds and lions and people.  Daddy thought Noah must have been a fine
animal tamer, like the one in the circus Gladys Evans' father took us
to, only better, of course.  Don't you think you'll like George
Washington?" she asked timidly, rather puzzled by her aunt's silence.

"He's a beautiful cat," gulped Mrs. Donovan, who was more puzzled than
Mary Rose.  What should she do?  What could she do?  She took both Mary
Rose and George Washington in her arms.  "Listen to me, Mary Rose, for
a minute.  You know your Uncle Larry is janitor of this building?"

"It's a fine building," admiringly.  "He must be awful rich."

"He isn't rich at all," hurriedly.  "If he was he wouldn't be a
janitor.  A janitor is the man who takes care of it----"

"Oh," Mary Rose was frankly disappointed.  "I thought he owned it."

"You see other folks live here, lots of them, an' the man who owns it
won't let them have any cats or dogs," she hesitated, she hated to say
it, "or childern in it.  It's in the lease.  A lease is the same as a
law."

"Won't have any cats or dogs or children!"  Mary Rose's voice was
shrill with astonishment and her eyes were as big as saucers.  "Why,
everybody has children!  They always have had.  Don't you remember,
even Adam and Eve?  In Mifflin everyone has children."

"It's different in Waloo.  You see the man who owns this house thinks
childern are noisy an' destructive."  She tried her best to find an
excuse for the unknown owner.  "He doesn't know, of course.  He's
probably a cross old bachelor."

"But I'm a child," wailed Mary Rose suddenly.  "Wha-what are you going
to do with me?"  Her face whitened.

Her aunt put her hand under the little chin and turned Mary Rose's
startled face up so that the two pairs of eyes looked directly into
each other.  "You're not a child, Mary Rose.  You're a great big girl
goin' on fourteen.  Don't ever forget that.  If anyone asks you how old
you are you just tell 'em you're goin' on fourteen.  That's what you
are, you know."

"Yes," doubtfully.  "But I have to go to eleven first and then to
twelve and thirteen----"

"Waloo folks don't care about that," her aunt interrupted quickly.
"They don't care to hear about any but the fourteen.  Don't you ever
forget."

"I won't," promised Mary Rose solemnly, too puzzled just then to think
it out.  "But what about George Washington?  He's just a cat."  She
looked dubiously at George Washington and shook her head.  Nothing
could be made of him but a cat.  "An orphan cat!" she added firmly.

"I know, dearie."  Aunt Kate's arms tightened around her.  "An' I hate
to ask you to give him up.  I know you love him but if you keep him
here it may mean that your uncle will lose his job an' if he did that
there wouldn't be any roof over our heads nor bread for our stomachs."

"Oh!"  Mary Rose stared at her.  "Would that cross old bachelor owner
make him not be janitor?"

Her aunt nodded.  "We'll have to find someone to take care of him--just
for a while," she added quickly as she saw two big tears in Mary Rose's
blue eyes.  "Some day, please God, we'll have a home where we can have
him with us."

Mary Rose stood very still, trying in vain to understand this strange
world to which she had come, a world where children and cats and dogs
were not considered precious and desirable.  Suddenly a bell rang.

"That's Mrs. Rawson," murmured Aunt Kate.  "I'll bet she wants me to
run up an' look at her windows again.  I'll be right back, Mary Rose,"
she promised as she hurried away to answer the insistent jangle of Mrs.
Rawson's bell.



CHAPTER III

Left alone, Mary Rose caught George Washington to her heart and stood
staring about the room.  She shook her head.  This might be a beautiful
palace but she was very much afraid that she was not going to like it.
She walked slowly into the next room and then to the kitchen, whose
windows faced the alley.

Across the driveway she could see a broad open space, the yard of a
rambling old-fashioned house.  A man was cleaning an automobile and
through the open window Mary Rose could hear his cheery whistle.  There
was something about the old-fashioned house and the spacious yard that
reminded Mary Rose of Mifflin, where people loved children and had
pets.  The puzzled frown left her face, and clutching George Washington
closer she went out of the back door and across the alley.

"If you please," she said, her heart beating so fast that she was
almost choked, "would you take a cat to board?"

She had to say it a second time before the man heard her.  He looked up
in surprise.  He had a frank, pleasant face with twinkling eyes and
Mary Rose liked him at once.

"Hullo, brother," he said, quite as cordially as a Mifflin man would
have spoken.  "And where did you drop from?"

"I didn't drop," answered literal Mary Rose.  "I came across the
alley," and she nodded toward the big apartment house.  It now turned a
white brick face to her.  Mary Rose almost forgot her errand when she
saw that.  In Mifflin houses were the same color all the way around.
"Why--why, it's two-faced!" she cried.  "The front is all red and now
the back is all white.  It's just like an enchanted palace."

"It is an enchanted palace," grumbled the man.

Mary Rose flew to his side.  "Oh, is there a princess there?  A
beautiful princess?" she begged.

The man colored under the tan the sun and wind had spread over his
face.  "There is," he admitted, "a most beautiful princess."

"And a witch?" insisted Mary Rose.  "A wicked witch?"  The color flew
into her face also.

"The wickedest witch that could ever enslave a beautiful princess.  Her
darned old name is Independence!"

Mary Rose did not understand and she thought it was an odd name for a
witch but she wished to know more.  "And is the prince there?" she
demanded thirstily.

The man's face turned redder than before.  "The prince is here," he
said sadly.  "Right here.  And he might as well be in Jericho," he
added under his breath.

"I've heard the Presbyterian minister speak of Jericho but I never read
of it in any fairy-tale.  Oh, dear!  I hope the prince won't go there.
I want him to stay here and rescue the pretty princess from that wicked
witch In-independence," she stumbled over the unfamiliar word.

The man looked at her.  He had to look away down to find her, for he
was tall, over six feet, and Mary Rose was not much more than half
that, but when he finally did find her Mary Rose was amazed to see the
look of determination that came into his sunburned face.

"He'll do it," he said, half under his breath.  "It's all very well for
a girl to be independent, but she needn't be so darned independent that
she won't listen to a word a man says."

"I don't think I understand," Mary Rose ventured to say when there was
a long pause.

Her new friend laughed.  "No, of course, you don't."  He put his hands
on her shoulders.  "As man to man," he said, "the modern girl is
getting to be almost too much of a problem for the modern man.  I don't
suppose you understand that, either.  But wait ten or fifteen years and
you will.  Godfrey!  I feel sorry for you.  If they keep on as they've
started what will they be in ten years?  Did you say you were living
over there?"  He looked toward the white wall.

Mary Rose nodded her yellow head.  "I thought perhaps you might like to
take a cat to board.  An orphan cat," she explained pityingly.

Jerry Longworthy swallowed a laugh when he saw that there was real
trouble in her face.  "Suppose you climb into the car and tell me why
you're looking for a boarding place for an orphan cat?"

Mary Rose smiled radiantly as she obeyed and, with George Washington
cuddled against her, she told him all about it.

"My Uncle Larry," she began very importantly, "is the janitor of that
wonderful two-faced palace."

"Is he, indeed," remarked Jerry Longworthy, lighting his pipe.

"But he doesn't own it.  At first I thought he did.  I used to live in
Mifflin, where there aren't any houses like that.  Every family has its
own house.  Some of them are little but Mrs. Black's is as big as
yours.  She brought me to Waloo and we had a taxicab all the way."

"All the way!" Mr. Jerry showed a proper amount of astonishment.  "That
was a treat."

"It was to me," simply.  "There aren't any taxicabs in Mifflin, just
one old hack that was made before the war, Mr. Day said, and that's a
very long time ago."

"It is," agreed Mr. Jerry.  "Longer than either you or I can remember.
I expect you are all of ten years old?"

"I'm older than that."  She would have told him how much older but she
remembered what Aunt Kate had said.  "I'm going on fourteen."  It
sounded so aged that she felt quite important.  "And my name is Mary
Rose Crocker."

"Mary Rose?"  He lifted his eyebrows, and Mary Rose knew at once that
he was thinking that boys' clothes and girls' names do not usually go
together.  She flushed.

"I wear them to save washing," she said with a certain dignity as she
touched the shrunken knickerbockers.  "Girls' clothes are a lot of
trouble.  Lena said they weren't worth it."

"I'm sure she's right.  You're only a little ahead of the style.  All
girls'll be wearing them soon, no doubt.  They're that independent.
How old is the orphan George?"  He changed a subject that was evidently
so painful to Mary Rose.

"He's 'most five.  I got him when I had tonsilitis, when I was six,"
unconsciously betraying to anyone who could add five to six the secret
Aunt Kate had begged her to keep.  "And we've never been separated a
whole day.  But now," she swallowed the lump in her throat and went on
bravely, "you see the owner of that palace won't have any children nor
any dogs nor any cats in it."

"I know."  Mr. Jerry seemed to know everything.  "What are you going to
do?"

"If we kept him Uncle Larry would lose the janitor and we wouldn't have
a roof over our heads nor bread for our stomachs, so I thought if I
could find a pleasant place for him to board near by I could see him
often.  I couldn't give him away, for Aunt Kate says perhaps the
Lord'll give us a real home some day where we can all be together.
When I saw your house it made me think of Mifflin and I wondered if you
had a cat and if you hadn't if you would like to board one?"  Her face
was painfully serious as she lifted It to Jerry Longworthy.

"Well," he considered the question gravely.  "Can you pay his board?"

"I've a dollar and forty-three cents.  The forty-three cents I saved
and the dollar Mr. Black gave me when he took me to the train in
Mifflin.  How much should a cat's board be?" anxiously.

"How much milk does he drink?  Milk's seven cents a quart in Waloo."

"Oh, not more than a quart a day," eagerly.  "And he's almost too fat
now."

"A quart a day would be seven times seven----"

"I know.  I know all my tables up to twelve times twelve.  That would
be forty-nine cents.  Do you think fifty cents would be enough?"

"I should think fifty cents a week very good board for a cat.  Suppose
we go in and see what my Aunt Mary has to say."

His Aunt Mary proved to be a plump lady with a round rosy face, who
agreed with Mary Rose that children and cats and dogs were most
desirable additions to a family.  She seemed quite glad to take George
Washington as a boarder and thought that fifty cents a week was enough
to charge as long as Mary Rose solemnly promised to come over every day
and help take care of him.  Mary Rose promised most solemnly.

"I'm so glad."  She beamed on Mr. Jerry and his Aunt Mary and hugged
George Washington.  "It's a great relief to find a pleasant boarding
place.  I can pay for two weeks, almost three weeks now," she offered.

Mr. Jerry started to speak but his Aunt Mary shook her head and he shut
his mouth with the words inside.

"We don't take board in advance for a cat," said his Aunt Mary in a way
that told Mary Rose such a thing was never done.  "In fact, we've never
taken a cat to board before.  I think it will be more satisfactory if
we wait until the end of the week, when we can tell just how much milk
he will drink," she added soberly.

"He's awfully greedy."  Mary Rose looked sadly at the greedy George
Washington.  "But he's always had all he wanted.  I can't tell you how
much obliged I am and I'll come over every day.  It's awfully good of
you to take him when you haven't any other boarders."

"I'd take you, too, if I could," Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary murmured as she
went to get a ginger cooky.

"I'm going to find the beautiful princess," Mary Rose told Mr. Jerry,
when she said good-by to him a few minutes later.  "And when I do shall
I tell her that the prince is not going to Jericho?"

"Do," he said and his face went all red again.  "Tell her that he's
going to stay right here on the job, that he will never give her up."

"Never give her up," repeated Mary Rose.  She tried to say it as firmly
as he had said it and she waved her hand as she went across the alley
and into the back door of the Washington, with a most delicious thrill
at entering such a two-faced building.

Mr. Jerry looked after her and frowned.  Then he shook his fist at the
Washington.

"You are an enchanted palace," he told it sternly.  "If it weren't for
doggone places like you, girls would have to stay at home.  They
couldn't go out in the world and grow so independent that they think
work is the biggest thing in creation.  Oh, Godfrey! it isn't normal
for any girl to like a job better than a perfectly good man.  When I
think of Elizabeth Thorley wasting herself on advertisements for
Bingham and Henderson's sickening jams when she might be making a
Heaven for me it sends my temperature up until I'm afraid of
spontaneous combustion.  She wouldn't care if I did blow up and turn to
ashes.  She wouldn't care what happened to me so long as she could send
out a new poster for peach marmalade.  She wants to live her own life
and not be tied down to a man or a home," he groaned.  "Darn these
feministic ideas, anyway!  I wish I had been my own grandfather.  The
girl he wanted wasn't on any old factory payroll."

He had been in love with Elizabeth Thorley ever since one night, almost
a year ago, when he had looked across a room and seen her red-brown
hair, her oval face with its uplifted pointed chin, and met her
laughing eyes.  He had held her gaze for the fraction of a moment and
in that time his heart had stopped beating.  When it began again the
world was a very different place to him.  But, alas, it was not a
different place to her.  She had suffered no magical change by the
short interchange of glances.

They had been the best of friends.  They had a certain similarity of
tastes and interests, for he was an architect and she was an
advertising artist.  But when he asked for more than friendship she
tilted her white chin a bit higher and told him frankly that she was
not the type of girl to want or think of marriage; that all she wished
was her work and she thanked her lucky stars every night of her life
that she had enough of it to be independent.

"Marriage to me is a many-headed dragon," she said.  "It eats up a
girl's individuality, her ambitions, her talents.  Oh, yes, it does!
I've seen it too many times not to know, and I want to keep Elizabeth
Thorley's personality for her as long as she lives.  I shan't merge it
in that of any man."

She valued his friendship; she would like to keep it always, she added,
but she did not want his love.  She did not want any man's love.  That
was why Mr. Jerry shook his fist at the white face of the Washington
and swore that he loathed the idea of feminine independence, loathed it
from the very bottom of his heart.

"Why, Mary Rose, wherever have you been?" demanded startled Mrs.
Donovan, when Mary Rose, a trifle breathless and minus George
Washington, slipped into the basement flat.  "I've been lookin'
everywhere for you."

"I'm sorry but I just had to find a boarding place for George
Washington.  Oh, Aunt Kate, do you suppose there's any way a girl like
me can earn fifty cents every week?"



CHAPTER IV

When Larry Donovan saw his niece she had changed her shabby boy's suit
of blue serge for the clothes that Ella Murphy had outgrown.  Ella had
astonished and disgusted her mother by lengthening herself, in a single
night, it seemed to the outraged Mrs. Murphy, to such an extent that a
new outfit was necessary.

"It may be well enough for asparagus and tulips to grow like that, but
it's all wrong for a girl," she had said resentfully.  "I just wish the
Power that lengthened her had to find her dresses and petticoats and
things to make her decent to go to the grandmother that's never seen
her.  Here I am, all but ready to start, an' I have to get her new
clothes.  Childern may be a blessing, there's folks that say they are,
but there's times I can't see anything but the worry and the expense of
'em."

So the lengthened Ella's discarded garments had been left behind for
Mrs. Donovan to dispose of.  They had been packed away and forgotten
until Mary Rose arrived and reminded her Aunt Kate that a perfectly
good outfit for a girl of fourteen was in one of her closets.

Fortunately Ella had been slim as well as tall and the middy blouse
that Mrs. Donovan tried on Mary Rose did not look too much as if it had
been made for her grandmother.  The bright plaid skirt trailed on the
floor but Aunt Kate turned back the hem which still left the skirt
hanging considerably below Mary Rose's shabby shoe tops, much to her
delight.

She hung over the machine, her tongue clattering an unwearied
accompaniment to the whir of the wheel, as Mrs. Donovan sewed the
basted hem.

"Did you know there was an enchanted princess in your house, Aunt
Kate?" she demanded excitedly.

Mrs. Donovan had not known it and her surprise made her break her
thread.  When Mary Rose had explained she grunted something.

"You mean the girl that Mr. Longworthy's crazy about?  She's up above
an' won't have nothin' to do with men.  'I don't want nothin' in my
life but my work,' says she to me, herself.  That's all very well for
now but let her wait a few years an' she'll sing a different tune or I
miss my guess.  She ain't enchanted, Mary Rose, she's just pig-headed
an' young."

Mary Rose was disappointed.  "Mr. Jerry said she was under the spell of
the wicked witch, Independence," she insisted.  "Wasn't it good of him
to take George Washington to board?  It's such a relief to have found a
pleasant place so near.  I'm sure they'll be friendly to him."

Mrs. Donovan mentally planned to slip across the alley and see Mr.
Jerry and his Aunt Mary herself about George Washington's board as she
looked into the earnest little face so near her own.

"Sure, they will," she said above the whir of the machine.  "But you
mustn't make friends of everyone you meet, Mary Rose.  A city isn't
like the country.  I suppose you knew everyone in Mifflin?"

"Everyone," with an emphatic shake of her head.  "Animals and
vegetables as well as people.  And everyone knew me."

"Well, it won't be that way in Waloo," Mrs. Donovan explained.  "No one
knows you an' you don't know anyone.  You mustn't go makin' up to
strangers.  A little girl can't tell who's good an' who's bad."

"She can if she has the right kind of an eye," Mary Rose told her
eagerly.  "Daddy said so over and over again.  He said the good Lord
never made bad people because it would be a waste of time and dust when
he could just as well make them good.  And if you had the right kind of
an eye you could see that there was good in every single person.  Daddy
said I had the right kind.  Mine's blue but it isn't in the color, for
his eyes were brown and they were right, too.  It's something," she
hesitated as she tried to explain what was so very dear and simple to
her.  "It's something to do with the inside and your heart.  I
shouldn't wonder, Aunt Kate, if you had the right kind.  Isn't it
easier for you to see that people are kind and good than it is to see
them bad?"

It wasn't for Aunt Kate.  A two-years' residence in the basement of the
Washington had about convinced her that all human nature was sour but
she disliked to tell Mary Rose so when Mary Rose so plainly expected
her to agree that the world was inhabited by a superior sort of angel.
She snipped her threads and drew the plaid skirt from under the needle.

Mary Rose fairly squealed with delight when she was in the white middy
blouse and the skirt flapped about her ankles in such a very grown-up
manner.  Mary Rose's yellow hair had always been bobbed but no one had
seen that it was trimmed before she left Mifflin and it hung in rather
straight lanky locks about her elfish face.  Some of the locks were
long enough to be drawn under one of Ella's discarded red hair ribbons
and Aunt Kate pinned back the others.  The result was a very different
Mary Rose from the one who had jumped out of the taxicab a few hours
ago.  She climbed on a chair and looked at her reflection in the mirror
of her aunt's bureau.

"I do think it's too lovely!" she cried rapturously.  "You can't ever
know, Aunt Kate, how splendid it is to wear skirts.  Sometimes," she
whispered confidentially, "I used to wonder if I really was a girl.
You don't think it will make too much washing?" anxiously.  "I
shouldn't want to be a burden to you.  But I do love this skirt!  I
wish Gladys Evans could see me!"

[Illustration: "'You can't ever know, Aunt Kate, how splendid it is to
wear skirts.'"]

She was still admiring her new clothes in the mirror when her Uncle
Larry came in.

"Hullo," he said in a loud cheery voice.  "Who's this?  Kate, Mrs.
Bracken wants to see you."

Mary Rose tore her eyes from the fascinating reflection in the mirror
that she could scarcely believe was herself, and looked at the big
broad-shouldered man in the doorway.  He had been frowning but the
frown slipped away from his forehead when he gazed into Mary Rose's
blue eyes, so that he looked very kind and friendly.  Mary Rose jumped
from the chair and ran over to him.

"I'm Mary Rose," she said a bit shyly.  This unknown uncle was so big
and strong and he was janitor of this strange two-faced palace.  A
janitor sounded powerful and important even if Aunt Kate had explained
that he wasn't, so that Mary Rose felt a little shy with him.

"Mary Rose, eh?"  He picked her up and raised her in his arms until her
face was on a level with his.  "Sure, I think you're more of a Rose
than a Mary," he added as he kissed the face that was as pink as any
flower.

Her arms met around his neck.  "That's because I'm so happy to be with
you and Aunt Kate," she whispered.  "You know, after daddy went to
Heaven there wasn't anyone in the whole world that belonged to me in
Mifflin but George Washington, and my dog that Jimmie Bronson borrowed,
and Jenny Lind, and now to have a great big uncle and a beautiful aunt
of my very own m-makes me very happy."

"Who's George Washington?" asked Uncle Larry as he found a chair and
sat down with her in his arms.

Mary Rose told him about her cat, which was boarding across the alley,
and Uncle Larry thought to himself that he would go over and make sure
that the cat was all right.  It was a thundering shame the child
couldn't have her pet with her.  He'd like to tell the owner of the
Washington a few things if he knew who he was and if there was no fear
of losing his job.

"And Jenny Lind," Mary Rose was saying eagerly.  "I must show you Jenny
Lind."  She slipped down and ran into the next room to come back with a
birdcage.  "Aunt Kate says I may keep her here because there isn't one
word in that law about canary birds."

"No, thank God, there isn't," said Uncle Larry.  "The old grouch must
have forgotten about them."  He admired Jenny Lind as much as Mary Rose
could wish.

"The real Jenny Lind was a girl with a bird in her throat," Mary Rose
explained as she leaned against his knee.  "My own grandfather heard it
and he told daddy and daddy told me that to hear her sing made a man
think he was in Heaven.  So when Mrs. Lenox gave me this beautiful bird
for my very own, of course, I named her Jenny Lind.  Mrs. Lenox called
her Cleopatra.  Wasn't that a silly name for a bird?  Mrs. Lenox must
have liked it or she wouldn't have given it to anything.  Isn't it the
luckiest thing that everyone hasn't the same likes?  Just suppose
everyone had been like my father and my mother and all the little girls
were named Mary Rose?  I think it's the most beautiful name in the
entire dictionary, but Gladys Evans in Mifflin said it was common.  She
counted up and she knew seven Marys, with her grandmother and old Mrs.
Wilcox, who's deaf and half blind, and four Roses.  But there wasn't
one Mary Rose!" triumphantly.  "And that made all the difference in the
world.  My daddy chose the Mary because he said there wasn't a better
name for a little girl to have for her own and my little mother chose
the Rose because she said I was just like a flower when she saw me
first.  Don't you like it, Uncle Larry?"

"I do!"  Uncle Larry could not have told her how much he liked it, but
as he listened to her chatter he wondered how on earth Kate was going
to make the tenants of the Washington think the child was fourteen.

"And I like your name," Mary Rose was kind enough to say.  "And Aunt
Kate's, too," she added, as Aunt Kate came back from her interview with
Mrs. Bracken.

"Her girl's gone," she said in answer to Uncle Larry's question.  "I
don't wonder.  That's the fourth in three weeks.  Seems if she only
stays home long enough to hire an' discharge 'em.  She heard I had a
niece with me an' she wants her to go up every mornin' an' wash the
dishes till she gets another girl.  So, Mary Rose, if you really want
to earn money to pay for George Washington's board, here's a chance."

"Oh!"  Mary Rose slid to the floor and clapped her hands.  "I do think
this is the most wonderful world that ever was.  I just wish for
something and then I have it."

"That'll happen just so long as you wish for what you can get," Aunt
Kate told her.

When Mary Rose was tucked in bed, where she told Aunt Kate she felt
like a long green pickle in a glass jar because she never had slept in
a cellar--a basement--before, and they always had pickles in their
cellar, Aunt Kate explained to her husband about Mrs. Bracken.

"I couldn't say anythin', but, of course, she'd come.  Mrs. Bracken had
the nerve to tell me she knew Mary Rose wasn't a child for childern
weren't allowed in the buildin'.  What was I to do, Larry Donovan, but
say she'd wash her dirty old dishes?  It won't hurt Mary Rose an' I'll
give her a hand if she needs it.  Isn't it a pity though that Mary Rose
couldn't have taken more after her mother's fam'ly?  Seems if I never
saw such a small eleven-year-old as she is."



CHAPTER V

Enveloped in a blue and white checked gingham apron of her aunt's, Mary
Rose washed Mrs. Bracken's dishes.  Mrs. Donovan had brought her up to
the apartment and Mary Rose had looked curiously around the rather bare
and empty halls.  There was something in the atmosphere of them that
made her catch Mrs. Donovan by the hand.

"It feels like the Presbyterian Church in the middle of the week," she
whispered.  "It doesn't seem as if anyone really lived here, Aunt Kate."

"You'll find folks live here," Mrs. Donovan said grimly as she unlocked
the Bracken door.  "We don't ever get a chance to forget 'em."

Mrs. Bracken had gone out with her husband and there was no one in the
apartment that seemed so big and grand to Mary Rose's unsophisticated
eyes.  But Aunt Kate sniffed at the untidy kitchen and living-room.

"Seems if it was just about as important for a woman to make a home as
a club," she said under her breath as she picked up papers and
straightened chairs in the living-room.  She found the dish pan and
showed Mary Rose what to do.

"I know how to wash dishes, Aunt Kate."  Mary Rose was in a fever to
begin.  "I washed them for Lena and no one could be more particular
than she was.  We got our hot water out of a kettle instead of a pipe."
She watched with interest the water run steaming from the faucet.
"Wouldn't it be grand if Mrs. Bracken had a little girl so we could
wash dishes together?  I don't mind doing them all by myself a bit,
Aunt Kate.  I'm glad to do it.  I know there's nothing so splendid as a
girl being useful.  Daddy told me that and Mr. Mann, the minister, and
Gladys Evans' grandmother and all the other grown-uppers.  But I think
the grandest part is to earn George Washington's board.  It's splendid
to have someone besides yourself to work for," she added with a very
adult air.

She sang to herself as she worked, after Aunt Kate had left her.

  "Where have you been, Billie boy, Billie boy?
  Where have you been, charming Billie?
  I've been to see my wife, she's the treasure of my life,
  She's a young thing and can't leave her mother."


It was Lena's favorite song and it had many verses.  Mary Rose sang
them all with gusto.

"If I didn't make a noise I'd be scared of the quiet," she thought.  "I
never was in a home that was so little like a home.  It's because there
isn't anything alive in it.  There isn't even a Lady Washington
geranium."  She was astonished that there wasn't, for in Mifflin pots
of geraniums and other plants were always to be seen in sunny windows.
"It gives you a hollow feeling--not empty for bread and butter but for
people," she decided.

Mary Rose had never lived where there were no live things.  "Dogs and
cats and birds help to make you feel friendly toward all the world.
And so do plants.  I guess that's true of all the things God made," she
thought as she hung up the dish pan on the nail Aunt Kate had pointed
out.

She stood in the doorway, looking back at the clean and tidy kitchen
with considerable satisfaction.  She had done it all herself and it
would have pleased even the critical Lena.

A door across the hall opened suddenly and Mary Rose swung around and
looked into the curious face of an elderly woman who was almost as
broad as she was tall.  Her round face wore a scowl and the corners of
her mouth turned straight down.

"Good morning," Mary Rose said in the neighborly fashion that was in
vogue in Mifflin.

"H-m."  The fat lady eyed her over gold spectacles.  "Can't Mrs.
Bracken get a full-grown girl to do her work?  I thought she was
against child labor."

She laughed unpleasantly.

"I'm not working regular," Mary Rose said quickly, with a blush because
she was not so large as the fat lady thought she should be.  "I'm Mrs.
Donovan's niece and I've just come from Mifflin.  I'm only washing Mrs.
Bracken's dishes until she gets another girl, so I can earn money to
pay for George Washington's board."

"George Washington's board?" echoed the fat lady.  "Come here, Mina,"
she called over her shoulder, "and listen to this child.  Who's George
Washington?"  She was frankly curious and so was the maid, who had
joined her.

"He's my cat.  I've had him ever since I had tonsilitis.  Aunt Kate
says the law won't let him live here with me, so I'm boarding him over
there."  And she nodded in the direction of the alley and the
hospitable Mr. Jerry.

"Cats here?  I should say not!" exclaimed Mrs. Schuneman.  She watched
Mary Rose as she carefully locked the door of the Bracken apartment.
The child puzzled her and when Mrs. Schuneman was puzzled over anything
or anyone she had to find out all about them.  She had nothing else to
do.  Once she had been an active harassed woman, busy with the problem
of how she was to support herself and her two daughters, but just when
the problem seemed about to be too much for her to solve a brother died
and left her money enough to live comfortably for the remainder of her
life.  She had moved from the crowded downtown rooms to the more
pretentious Washington and tried to think that she was happier for the
change, but really she was very lonely and discontented.  Miss Louise
Schuneman was too busy with church work and Miss Lottie Schuneman had a
bridge club four afternoons a week and went to the matinee and the
moving picture shows the other afternoons, so that neither of them was
a companion for their mother.  Mrs. Schuneman had nothing to do but
wonder about the neighbors she did not know and tell her maid how much
admired her daughters were and how hard she had worked herself until
the good God had seen fit to take her brother from his packing plant.
"If you're the janitor's niece you can come in and clean up the mess
the plumber made on my floor.  It isn't the place of the girl I pay
wages to, to clean up the dirt the workmen make."

"Isn't it?"  Mary Rose did not know and she followed Mrs. Schuneman
into the living-room.  "What a pleasant room," she said, when she
crossed the threshold, for the sun streamed in through the windows in a
way that made even a rather garish decoration seem attractive.

Mrs. Schuneman's grim face relaxed a trifle.  "It ought to be pretty,"
she grumbled.  "It cost enough but it don't suit Louise.  And Lottie
don't like the rug.  She says it's too red.  But I like red," she
snapped.  "It's a thankless task to try and please girls who think they
know more than their old mother."

"There is a lot of red in it." Mary Rose had to admit that much.  "But
red is a cheerful color.  It makes you feel very warm and comfortable."

"It isn't cheerful to my girls.  They won't stay at home, always away,
and their old mother left alone.  When they were little I gave them all
the time I could spare from my work and now they leave me by myself.
They think because I have a girl to cook and wash I don't need them."

Mary Rose did not understand and she stood there, just beyond the
threshold, uncertainly.  But if she did not understand why Mrs.
Schuneman's daughters did not stay in the room with the red tug, she
realized that Mrs. Schuneman was lonely.

"It's too bad you haven't a pet," she suggested.  "A dog or a cat is a
lot of company.  Why--" a sudden thought came to her.  "Just wait a
minute.  I'll be right back," she called as she ran out of the room.

Before Mrs. Schuneman fairly realized that she had gone she was back
with Jenny Lind in her cage.

"I thought perhaps you might like to have Jenny Lind spend the day with
you," she said breathlessly.  "She isn't just the same as a grown up
daughter, but she's lots of company and she sings--she sings," she was
rather at a loss to tell how well Jenny Lind could sing, "like a
seraphim!  They sing in the Bible and sound so grand I've always wanted
to hear one though I know there isn't a seraphim that could sing
sweeter than Jenny Lind.  You can put the cage in that window.  She
loves the sunshine and she'll sing and sing until you forget you are
lonely."

"My gracious me!" murmured Mrs. Schuneman, staring from the eager face
to the sleek yellow bird.  "I haven't had a canary since I was a girl
in my father's house."

"Uncle Larry said the law doesn't say you can't have birds here.  It's
cats and dogs and children."

"Yes, yes.  I know."  Mrs. Schuneman walked up to the cage and looked
at Jenny Lind, who looked at her with her bright bead-like eyes before
she burst into joyous song.  "Now, why didn't I think of a canary?"
Mrs. Schuneman demanded sharply.  "There isn't any reason why I
shouldn't have one."

"You're perfectly welcome to Jenny Lind until you get one of your own."
Mary Rose was delighted to have Jenny Lind received so cordially.
"She'll be glad to spend the day with you.  She's a very friendly bird."

"I'll be glad to have her.  Perhaps you'll stay, too."  Mrs. Schuneman
surprised herself more than she did Mary Rose by the invitation that
popped so suddenly from her mouth.  She had never asked anyone in the
Washington to spend the day with her before.  "Tell me where you came
from and what's your name and how old you are?"

"I came from Mifflin and my name's Mary Rose Crocker and I'm almost
el--I mean I'm going on fourteen."  She remembered the secret she had
with Aunt Kate just in time.  A second more and it would have been too
late.

Mrs. Schuneman regarded her over the gold spectacles.  "Going on
fourteen?" she repeated.  "You're very small for your age.  Why, when
my Lottie was fourteen she would have made two of you."

Mary Rose squirmed.  The unjust criticism was very hard to bear.  She
just had to murmur faintly that it would be some time before she would
reach fourteen.

"H-m, I thought so."  Mrs. Schuneman looked very wise, as if she
understood perfectly and there is no doubt that she understood more
than Mary Rose.  "Well, well," she said, while Mary Rose, scarlet and
mortified, stood twisting the corner of Aunt Kate's apron.

"I--I hope you won't tell," she said hurriedly, her eyes on the red
rug, "because it's something of a secret on account of the law for this
house.  I don't understand exactly but Aunt Kate does."

"I've no doubt she does."  The corners of Mrs. Schuneman's mouth were
pulled down farther than they had been and she looked very, very stern
until Jenny Lind broke into joyous song again, when the corners of Mrs.
Schuneman's mouth tilted up, slightly.  "Well, well," she said again,
but not quite so crossly.  "So long as you behave yourself and aren't a
nuisance I shan't say a word.  Where I lived before my brother left me
his money there were more children than a body could count.  Such a
noise and confusion all the time.  I was glad to get away from them and
come up here where there couldn't be any children----"

"Nor any dogs nor cats," murmured Mary Rose sadly.

"But maybe that's why the place hasn't seemed like home to me."

"Of course it is."  Mary Rose knew.  "I never heard of a home without
children.  There wasn't one in all Mifflin."  She tried to imagine such
a thing but she couldn't do it.  "It wouldn't be a home," she decided
emphatically.

Mrs. Schuneman regarded her curiously before she gave herself another
surprise.  "Suppose you go and ask your aunt if you can go out with me
and find a bird?  I believe you would choose a good one.  Louise and
Lottie can make a fuss if they want to but I never said a word when
they bought a phonograph and a bird will be more company for an old
lady than a machine."

They had a wonderful time finding a canary.  They visited several shops
where birds of many kinds were offered for sale.  Mary Rose quite lost
her heart to a great red and green poll parrot with fierce red-rimmed
eyes.

"You'd never be lonesome if you had him," she whispered.  "He could
really talk to you."

"Damn!  Damn!  Damn!" remarked Poll Parrot pleasantly, as if to show
that he really could talk.  "Polly wants a cracker.  Oh, damn!  Damn!
Fools and idiots!  Damn!"

"It isn't conversation I care for.  It's too much like having a man
around again."  Mrs. Schuneman was quite shocked.

After they had made their choice and had a bird in a neat little wooden
cage and had bought a fine brass cage for a permanent home they stopped
at a confectioner's for a sundae.  Mary Rose's cheeks were as pink as
pink as they sat at the little table and ate ice cream and discussed a
name for the new member of the Schuneman family.  They finally agreed
on Germania in deference to Mrs. Schuneman's love for her native
country and Mary Rose's firm belief that a bird's name should be
suggestive of music.  "And I've heard that lots of music was made in
Germany," she said.

Altogether it was a very pleasant afternoon and they went back to the
Washington very happily.  Mrs. Schuneman carried Germania in the
temporary wooden cage and Mary Rose proudly bore the brass cage.  As
they went up the steps a man brushed past them.  He was tall and thin
and had a nervous irritable manner that one felt as well as saw.  Mary
Rose locked up and smiled politely.

"Good afternoon," she said.

The tall thin man did not answer her.  He did not even look at her but
hurried on up the stairs.

"That's Mr. Wells," Mrs. Schuneman explained in a hoarse whisper that
must have followed Mr. Wells up the stairs and caught him at the first
landing.  "He's an awful grouch.  He's over the Brackens, but if Lottie
is entertaining one of her bridge clubs and he's at home he's sure to
send his Jap man down to ask her to make less noise.  I've never spoken
to him in my life.  I don't see how you dared."

"I always spoke to people in Mifflin."  Mary Rose couldn't understand
why she shouldn't speak to people in Waloo.

"Folks don't speak to folks in Waloo unless they've been introduced,"
Mrs. Schuneman told her gloomily.  "The good God knows I've had to
learn that.  And you're too young to know good from bad," she began, as
Aunt Kate had, but Mary Rose interrupted her to explain that she could,
that she had the right kind of an eye, and he tried to tell her what
the right kind of an eye was.

"You look through your heart with it," vaguely.  "I don't understand
just how for your eyes are here," she touched her face, "and your
heart's here," and her hand tapped her small chest.  "But that's what
daddy said.  He called it the friendly eye.  Being friendly to people,
he said, was as if you had a candle in your heart and the light shines
through your eyes.  Oh, Mrs. Schuneman, I do believe Germania is going
to like it here."  For Germania was twittering as if she did find her
new home to her liking.

They had scarcely transferred Germania from the wooden cage to the
shining brass one and hung it in the window when Miss Lottie Schuneman
came in.  Mary Rose looked at her eagerly.  Could she be the enchanted
princess Mr. Jerry had spoken of?  But Miss Lottie was short and plump
like her mother and her face was round and rosy.  She did not bear the
faintest resemblance to any princess Mary Rose had ever read of.  It
was disappointing.

"What have you there?" Miss Lottie asked at once.  "You can't have pets
in this flat, you know."

"You can have canary birds," Mary Rose told her quickly.  "Uncle Larry
said the law never spoke of them."

"Uncle Larry said that, did he?" Miss Lottie began but her mother broke
in with an eagerness that was very different from the querulous way in
which she usually spoke:

"I've got to have something alive here to keep me company.  You don't
know how lonesome it is for a woman to have nothing to do when she's
been as busy as I was.  There isn't anyone for me to talk to but Mina,
and she's paid to work, not to listen.  You and Louise bought a
phonograph.  I guess I can have a bird if I want one."

"My word!"  Miss Lottie put her hands on her hips and stared at her
mother.  She laughed softly, indulgently.  "Sure, you can have a bird
if you want one.  But don't let it wake me up mornings."

"Wouldn't you just as soon be wakened by a bird singing as a steam
radiator sizzling?" asked Mary Rose.  "Unless you live all by yourself
on a desert island you've got to be wakened by some kind of a noise.  I
think a bird singing is just about the most beautiful noise that ever
was."

"So do I," agreed Mrs. Schuneman.  "And you needn't worry, Lottie
Schuneman.  I don't complain of your phonograph nights, I leave that to
Mr. Wells, and you needn't find fault with my bird mornings."

"I'm not finding fault, far be it from me; only when Mr. Wells sends
down word that your new pet is a nuisance you can answer him yourself."

"How could anyone say a bird was a nuisance?" Mary Rose was shocked.
"Why, it can't be that late!" for the dock on the mantel called out
five times and she looked at it in wide-eyed amazement.  Never had an
afternoon run away any faster.  "I must go.  I've had a perfectly
wonderful time, Mrs. Schuneman, and I hope that Germania will be happy
with you in her new home."

There was a wistful note in her voice that reminded Mrs. Schuneman that
Mary Rose had recently come to a new home.  She patted Mary Rose on the
shoulder and told her to come again.

"Come whenever you like.  I'm alone most of the time and you can be
free with me," meaningly.  "My tongue isn't hung in the middle to wag
at both ends."

"You can't have a kid running in and out all the time," objected Miss
Lottie, when Mary Rose had gone.

Mrs. Schuneman stopped snapping her fingers at Germania and looked at
her daughter.  "There isn't much about this house that you let me have
as I want it.  You took me away from my old friends and brought me up
here where it's so stylish I don't know a soul.  I wonder I haven't
lost my voice, I've so little chance to use it.  We've been here for
seven months now and though there's dozens and dozens of people pass my
door every night and morning, there's not one of them ever stops.  The
janitor and his wife are the only ones I can talk to and I have to find
fault to get them up here.  You and Louise are out all day.  You don't
stay here."

"You don't have to stay here, either," yawned Miss Lottie.  She had
heard all that before, very, very often.  "We've told you a million
times to go out."

"Where'll I go?" asked her mother sharply.  "Where'll I go?  I can't
run about the streets and the stores six days in the week.  A woman's
got to be home some time and if I find that child amuses me I'm going
to have her here when I want her.  You needn't say another word, Lottie
Schuneman.  So long as I pay the bills I'll have something to say about
my own house."

"I was only telling you the kid might be a nuisance," muttered Miss
Lottie.

"And I was telling you I'd do as you do, choose my own friends.  That
child's the only soul that has ever looked at me in a friendly way
since I came to this house and I'm going to see her when I want to."

Mrs. Donovan could scarcely believe her ears when Mary Rose poured out
the story of the afternoon.


"Old Lady Schuneman's been crosser than two sticks ever since she came
here.  Maybe it is because she's lonesome, I dunno.  Seems if a canary
won't do much for her but, for the land's sakes, Mary Rose, don't put
one in every flat."

"Wouldn't that be grand!"  Mary Rose stopped paring potatoes for supper
to look at her aunt with admiration.  "It would be like living inside
an organ, wouldn't it.  I think it would be perfectly lovely."



CHAPTER VI

When Mary Rose went up to Mrs. Bracken's the next morning she took
Jenny Lind with her and placed the cage on the kitchen table.

"I can't bear to be alone," she had explained to Aunt Kate.  "If I
don't have a friend with me I feel as if I was shut up in a dark
closet."

First Mary Rose went into the big living-room and picked up papers,
straightened the chairs and raised the shades as she had seen her aunt
do the day before.  It was a very splendid room to Mary Rose but there
was something about it that made her frown as she stood in the doorway.

"It needs something.  Even the chairs don't look as if they really knew
each other.  It doesn't feel as if people ever had a good time in it."
She shook her head and thought of the shabby sitting-room in
Mifflin--not big enough to swing a cat in, daddy had said--where she
and daddy and Jenny Lind and George Washington and Solomon and Lena had
been crowded together.  Everyone had had good times there.

She winked back a tear as she went down the hall.  She glanced in at an
open door and stopped short as she found that she was looking into the
black eyes of a woman on the bed.

"Are you Mrs. Donovan's niece?" the woman said faintly.  "Come in.
Gracious, but you're small for your age!  You washed up very nicely
yesterday.  I didn't close my eyes last night and I'm not feeling well
today, so I'm not going to get up for a while.  I wish you would tell
your uncle that Mrs. Matchan can't practice this morning.  I must get
some sleep.  What's that in the kitchen?" she demanded as she heard a
happy chirp-chirp.

"That's Jenny Lind."  Mary Rose was all sympathy for this lovely lady
who could not sleep.  For a moment she had thought that she might be
the enchanted princess but if she was Mrs. Bracken she was a married
lady and Mary Rose had never heard of a married princess.  All the
princesses she knew ceased to exist when they began to live happily
ever after.

"Jenny Lind?" asked Mrs. Bracken.

"My canary.  I brought her for company.  I never was in a house by
myself and it's lonely if you're only going on fourteen," faltered Mary
Rose, fully conscious that Mrs. Bracken did not care for canaries.

"Well, I can't have her in my kitchen.  She makes me nervous.  Put her
out in the hall and shut the bedroom door.  When you have washed the
dishes I may let you make a cup of tea."  And she closed the black eyes
which had looked at Mary Rose in such a chilly way.

Mary Rose went out on tiptoe.  She meant to close the door softly but
she was so indignant that it would slam.  Put her Jenny Lind out in the
hall where cats could get her?  She would not.  Even if cats were
forbidden to enter the Washington some cat might not know the law and
slip in.  She would take no risk.  She nodded encouragingly at the bird
as she looked about the kitchen.  Near the sink was an open cupboard
with three shelves, broad and high enough to hold a birdcage.  She
would put the cage on the lowest shelf and then if Mrs. Bracken came
out, she would push the door shut.

"You'd better go to sleep too, Jenny Lind," she cautioned in a low
voice.  "The lady doesn't like you.  She thinks you're noisy."  She did
not tell Jenny Lind what she thought of the lady, but shut her lips
firmly and began her work.  She did not sing that morning.  She did not
even look up to smile and nod to Jenny Lind, but kept her eyes on her
dishes, her lips pressed into an indignant red button.

Suddenly there was a whir--a rattle--and she did look up to see that
the cupboard had vanished.  Shelves and birdcage had all disappeared.
Nothing was left but a vacant space and an open door.  Mary Rose
dropped the dish she held.  Fortunately it was a kitchen bowl, but it
would have been the same if it had been one of the best cups.

[Illustration: "Shelves and birdcage had all disappeared."]

"Why--why!" gasped Mary Rose.  She tried to put her head in the space
where the shelves had been to see where Jenny Lind had gone.

"Jenny Lind!" she shrieked suddenly.  She could not help it.  If your
pet canary was suddenly snatched from you by some mysterious power, I
rather fancy you would shriek, too.  "Jenny Lind!"

The crash of the kitchen bowl or Mary Rose's astonished shriek brought
Mrs. Bracken from her bed.  She stood in the doorway, one hand
clutching the kimono she had thrown around her.

"You must be more quiet," she said crossly.  "How can I sleep when you
are making such a noise?  And if you break any more dishes I shall have
to charge you for them.  It's pure carelessness."

"It's Jenny Lind," gulped Mary Rose, too frightened to think of dishes.
And she tried to make Mrs. Bracken understand that Jenny Lind had been
there, in that hole in the wall, and that now--Oh, where was she?

Mrs. Bracken shrugged her shoulders.  "It's the dumbwaiter," she
yawned.  "Your bird has gone up to Mr. Wells or possibly higher.  If
it's Mr. Wells I don't suppose you'll see the bird again.  He's a very
peculiar man."

Mary Rose did not wait to hear another word.  With Aunt Kate's big blue
and white checked apron on, the dish mop in her hand, and a great fear
in her heart, she dashed up the stairs and pounded on the door of the
apartment above.  Mr. Wells came himself and if he had looked cross and
forbidding the night before he looked a thousand times crosser and more
forbidding now.  Indeed, he exactly fulfilled Mary Rose's idea of an
ogre.

"Please don't hurt Jenny Lind," sobbed Mary Rose, as soon as she could
gather breath to speak.  "I'll take her right away."

"Hurt who?  Who's Jenny Lind?" growled the ogre.

"My bird! my Jenny Lind!  She came up to your house with a dumbwaiter."
Mary Rose hadn't the faintest idea of what a dumbwaiter was and it
sounded horrible to her.  "Please, please, give her to me at once!"
She fairly danced in her impatience.  She would have rushed into the
apartment but Mr. Wells stood in the doorway.

"The dumbwaiter?"  Mary Rose had never heard a more unfriendly voice.
He called to someone behind him and a Japanese man came and peered
under Mr. Wells' arm as he held it against the frame of the door.

"Sako has taken nothing from the dumbwaiter this morning," Mr. Wells
said very coldly after he had exchanged a few words with his servant.
"But if you have lost your bird it is only what you must expect.  Pets
are not allowed in this house."  And he scowled fiercely enough to
frighten anyone but the owner of a lost canary.

"They are if they're not children nor cats nor dogs," insisted tearful
Mary Rose.  "Uncle Larry said the law never says one word about birds.
Oh, are you quite sure Jenny Lind isn't in your house?" she wailed.

"I told you we have taken nothing from the dumbwaiter," impatiently.
He thought he was wonderfully patient with the child.  He could have
ordered her out of the building at once.  "Your bird may have gone up
to the next floor."

"Perhaps she has."  Mary Rose was on the stairs before he finished the
sentence.  "I'm sorry for bothering you," she called back, "but if one
of your family was lost I rather think you'd try to find her."

Her voice rang out shrill and clear and it was such an unexpected sound
in the Washington, where children's voices were forbidden, that old
Mrs. Johnson opened her door in a spasm of curiosity.  She closed it
abruptly when she met the cold unfriendly glance of Mr. Wells' black
eyes, and shook in her shoes.

Four doors faced Mary Rose when she reached the third floor.  She
knocked on all of them not to waste time.  Two doors remained firmly
closed.  The other two opened simultaneously.  In one stood a girl with
yellow hair and blue eyes and in the other was a young man who promptly
changed the morose expression he had put on when he rose for a
pleasanter one as he glanced across at Miss Blanche Carter before he
even looked at Mary Rose.  Miss Carter looked at Mary Rose first and
then at Mr. Robert Strahan.

"Oh, please," Mary Rose was almost, if not quite, in tears, "have you
seen Jenny Lind?"

They stared at her.  The only Jenny Lind they had ever heard of had
been quietly in her grave for many years.  They looked at each other.
Mr. Strahan added a satisfied grin to his pleasant expression, for he
had wished to know Miss Carter ever since he had met her on the stairs
the day after he had moved into the Washington, but Fate had refused to
bring them together.  He determined to make the most of this rare
opportunity as he kindly questioned Mary Rose.

"Who is Jenny Lind?"

"My canary," sobbed Mary Rose.  "I put her on the shelf in Mrs.
Bracken's kitchen and she--she disappeared!"

"Cats," suggested Mr. Strahan with a very knowing glance for Miss
Carter.

Mary Rose shook her head.  "Cats aren't allowed here.  It was a
dumbwaiter, Mrs. Bracken said."  Her voice was filled with anguish.
How hateful city life was!

"Oh!  I thought it was the milkman."  Miss Carter turned and ran into
her flat, Mary Rose at her heels.  After a moment's hesitation, in
which he called himself a bashful idiot, Mr. Strahan deserted his
doorway for his neighbor's.  On the top shelf of a cupboard like that
which had been in Mrs. Bracken's kitchen Mary Rose saw a bottle of
milk.  She groaned.  But Miss Carter gave a pull somewhere and sent it
higher.  There on the lower shelf, swinging unconcernedly in her cage,
was Jenny Lind.  Mary Rose gave a joyous shriek.

"I thought I'd never see her again.  I can't thank you, but I'll
remember you as long as I live.  I--I feel as if you'd saved her life."
She shivered as she remembered the snap of Mr. Wells' black eyes, the
click of his heavy jaw, when he had said that pets were not allowed in
the building.

"What is all this excitement?" questioned a soft voice behind them, and
Mary Rose whirled around and stared at another girl.

Now that her anxiety in regard to Jenny Lind was relieved, Mary Rose
had time to think of other things.  She brushed the tears from her
eyes, and her face was wreathed with a dewy smile as she asked eagerly:

"Please, which--which of you is the enchanted princess?"  One of them
must be.  She knew it by a funny prickle down her back.

Both girls laughed, the yellow-haired one and the brown.

"Princesses aren't enchanted now."  Miss Carter pulled a lock of Mary
Rose's yellow hair.  "They have their eyes too wide open."

"But Mr. Jerry said there was, that in this very house was a most
beautiful princess who was under the spell of a wicked witch.  He said
the old witch's name was Independence."  Her words fairly ran over each
other, she was so afraid something would happen before she could
deliver Mr. Jerry's message to the princess.  "And he said to tell the
princess that the prince wasn't ever going to Jericho, but was going to
stay right here on the job."

Miss Carter looked significantly at the brown-haired girl.  "That
message isn't for me," she told Mary Rose.  "Independence and I are
strangers.  I can't bear the thing.  I quite agree with Mr. Jerry that
she is an old witch.  Isn't someone a picture, Bess," she asked, "with
her birdcage and checked apron?"

"She surely is."  The impatient frown that had marred Miss Thorley's
face at the mere mention of Mr. Jerry's name slipped away.  "I must
paint her.  She'll make a fine ad.  Who are you, honey?"

And Mary Rose told them who she was and how she had come from Mifflin
to make her home with Aunt Kate and Uncle Larry in the cellar-basement,
she meant; and how she had had to board out George Washington and had
taken Jenny Lind to Mrs. Bracken's for company while she earned money
to pay for George Washington's board.

"By jinks, what a jolly story," murmured Mr. Strahan who still clung to
his neighbor's doorway and his opportunity.  The two girls looked at
him and the three smiled involuntarily.

"I must go back and finish the dishes," Mary Rose announced suddenly.
"Mrs. Bracken won't like it if I stay away any longer.  I'm sorry I
bothered you," she smiled tremulously.  "But I just had to find Jenny
Lind.  Thank you for your trouble.  Good-by."

"Come and see us again?"  The invitation came in a chorus.

Mary Rose stopped abruptly.  "Is that an honest and true invitation?"
she asked doubtfully.  "Aunt Kate said I mustn't ever be a nuisance to
the tenements because children aren't allowed here.  I'm not a child,
she said, because I'm going on fourteen, but I had to promise to be
careful of the tenements."

"Bless the baby," murmured Miss Carter as she and Mr. Strahan stood in
the hall and watched Mary Rose's head go down, down.

"I thought children were barred?" asked Mr. Strahan quickly, he was so
afraid that Miss Carter would disappear also.

"I thought pets were barred, too.  She's a quaint little thing.  I
suppose she is homesick.  A city apartment house is not like a home in
a small town," she said, as if she knew, and she sighed.

"It is not!"  He agreed with her emphatically.  He had come from a
small town himself and he knew.  "I think I'll make a little story out
of this.  I'm a newspaper man, you know, and there isn't anything a
city editor likes better than he does a human interest story.  I have a
hunch that there is a lot of human interest in that kid."

"I fancy you are right.  I'm a librarian myself, and I should be at my
library this blessed moment.  I'd far rather go down and help Mary
Rose," and she laughed scornfully because she had such simple tastes.

He looked as if he admired them.  "If you feel that way you surely
aren't under the spell of that wicked witch Independence that Mary Rose
talks of."  There was nothing scornful in his laugh.  It held so little
scorn and so much admiration that she flushed.

"Independence!" she shrugged her shoulders.  "I learned long ago that
independence is just another word for loneliness.  My friend, Miss
Thorley, doesn't agree with me.  We have very warm arguments over it."

"They haven't been warm enough to disturb me.  You're very quiet
neighbors.  Doesn't the very quiet get on your nerves sometimes?  It's
something just to hear people, when you are alone and have no one to
talk to."

"Lonely!  You?" She was astonished.  "I don't see how a young man could
be lonely."  Evidently her idea of masculine life was a merry round of
social pleasure.

His laugh was a trifle bitter.  "A man can be lonely for exactly the
same reason a girl can," he asserted.  "I've lived here for three
months, and this is the first time I've spoken to you."

The color deepened in her cheeks.  "I suppose I shouldn't be talking to
you now but--Mary Rose--and we are neighbors.  One does get so
suspicious living with suspicious people," apologetically.

"Please don't be suspicious of me.  I'm the most harmless man in Waloo.
I'm too busy hanging on to my job to be dangerous.  I propose a vote of
thanks to Mary Rose for bringing us together.  All in favor say aye.
The ayes have it."  He held out his hand.

She laughed consciously, but after a second she gave him her fingers.
"It is pleasant to be able to speak to one's neighbors," she admitted
with a hint of formality that in some way pleased Mr. Strahan.

Mary Rose stopped at Mr. Wells' door as she went downstairs.  It would
be but friendly to tell him that Jenny Lind was found, he must be
anxious.  But she hesitated before she rapped on the door, very gently
this time.

Mr. Wells had not lost any of his grimness when he opened it.  He had
on his hat and he looked to Mary Rose's startled eyes as tall as the
steeple of the Presbyterian Church in Mifflin.

"Well, what now?" he snapped.

Mary Rose caught her breath.  "I thought you would like to know that
Jenny Lind is safe."  She lifted the cage so that he could see for
himself how safe and comfortable Jenny Lind was.  "She was on the
lowest shelf of the dumbwaiter.  The enchanted princess's milk bottle
was on the top shelf."  And she chuckled.  Now that she was no longer
frightened, Jenny Lind's adventure seemed a joke.

It was not a joke to Mr. Wells.  "A city apartment house is no place
for pets--or children," he said and shut the door.

Mary Rose stared at the mahogany panels.  "Crosspatch," she whispered.
And then she said it louder, "Crosspatch!"

The door opened as if by magic and Mr. Wells came out and shut it
behind him.

"Did you say anything?" he asked coldly.

Mary Rose was too startled and too honest not to tell the truth.

"I said crosspatch," she faltered and waited bravely for the deluge.

The two looked at each other.  The tall man with the nervous, irritable
face and the little girl with the birdcage in her hand.  She did not
say that she had called him a crosspatch, and kindly Discretion
whispered in Mr. Wells' ear that it would be wise to leave well enough
alone.  Without another word he stalked by Mary Rose down the stairs.

Mary Rose followed meekly.  "It's a lucky thing, Jenny Lind, that you
were not on his dumbwaiter.  He's not what I call a very friendly man,"
she murmured.

She told Mr. Jerry all about it that afternoon when she ran over to see
how George Washington was doing as a boarder.  Mr. Jerry watched her
curiously.

"Poor little kid," he thought.  "She's up against it for fair with a
cold-blooded bunch like that."  He was very sympathetic and kind and
quite enthusiastic over his new boarder.  He cheered Mary Rose
amazingly and lifted her to the seventh heaven of delight when he
suggested that she should ride downtown with him in the automobile when
he went for his Aunt Mary.

"You may take Jenny Lind and George Washington with you," he was good
enough to say.

Mary Rose's dancing feet moved in a more sedate measure.  "I think
Jenny Lind has had ride enough for one day.  And George Washington
likes his four feet better than he does an automobile.  He won't mind
if we leave him behind."

"Then you may sit on the front seat with me," Mr. Jerry promised.

"It's very exciting living in the city," sighed Mary Rose, when she was
on the front seat beside him.  "I've been here only three days and see
all that's happened.  Oh, there's the lady who found Jenny Lind--and
the enchanted princess, too!" she cried as they passed Miss Thorley and
Miss Carter.  "Isn't that the enchanted princess, Mr. Jerry?"  She
twisted around so that she could look into his face.  He colored and
his eyes seemed to darken as he spoke to the two girls.  Miss Thorley
nodded curtly, but Miss Carter waved a friendly hand.  "My," sighed
Mary Rose, "if I were a prince I wouldn't let any old witch
Independence keep her enchanted."

"I wonder how you would prevent it," muttered Mr. Jerry under his
breath.  "Saying and doing, Mary Rose, are two very separate and
distinct things."

"I know."  Mary Rose felt quite capable of discussing the subject.
"Mr. Mann, the Presbyterian minister in Mifflin, preached a whole
sermon about that.  He said the Lord didn't ever give you what you want
right off quick.  You had to work for it, and the more precious it was
the harder you had to work.  I should think that a beautiful princess
would be the most precious thing a prince could work for, shouldn't
you?"

Mr. Jerry took his hand from the wheel to squeeze Mary Rose's brown
fingers.  "I should!" he said solemnly.  "I do, Mary Rose, I do!"



CHAPTER VII

Strange as the Washington seemed to Mary Rose, it was not very
different from any other large city apartment house where people lived
side by side for months, for years, sometimes, without becoming
acquainted.  It was not worth while, some said; neighbors change too
often.  You don't know who people are, others thought.  In such close
quarters one cannot afford to know undesirable people.  The advantage
of an apartment house is that you don't have to know your neighbors,
murmured a third group.  Consequently the tenants came and went and one
could count on a hand and have fingers to spare, the few who exchanged
greetings when they met on the stairs.

This was an appalling state of affairs to country-bred Mary Rose, who
had been brought up in a friendly atmosphere.  In Mifflin everyone knew
everyone and was interested in what happened.  When joy came to a
neighbor there was general rejoicing, and when sorrow touched a family
there was a universal sympathy, while the little between pleasures and
perplexities lost nothing and gained considerably by the knowledge that
they were shared with others.  Mary Rose was intensely interested in
this new phase of life, if she could not understand it.  It amazed her
when she counted how many people were over her small head.

"In Mifflin I didn't have anyone but God and the angels," she told Aunt
Kate, "but here there's the Schunemans and the Rawsons and the Blakes
and Mr. Jarvis and Miss Adams and Mrs. Matchan and Miss Proctor and Mr.
Wilcox and his friend.  In Mifflin we lived side by side, you know, and
not up and down.  We ought all to be friends when we live so close
together, shouldn't we?" wistfully.

Aunt Kate tried her best to tell her that they were all friends, but
she couldn't do it.

"What's the good of tellin' her folks are friendly when they don't look
friendly?  Seems if a body can't frown with her face an' smile with her
heart at the same time.  An' frowns are just as catchin' as germs.  You
naturally don't pat a growlin' dog an' so you don't smile at a frownin'
person.  I've al'ys seen more frowns 'n smiles in the Washington."

But Mary Rose did her best to make friends, because that was what she
had done always and because that was the only way she knew how to live.
And one by one her unconscious little efforts to unlock the gates of
reserve that suspicion and indifference and consciousness had placed
over the hearts and lips of the people she was thrown with began to
make some impression.

Even Mrs. Willoughby, who had wept ever since her mother died, smiled
when she saw the little girl in the checked apron that was so much too
big for her, with her birdcage in her hand, and forgot to complain of
the unusual noise in the hall.  Mary Rose smiled, too, and when Mrs.
Willoughby spoke of Jenny Lind, Mary Rose offered to loan her bird.

"She'll make you feel happier," she said.  "She did me, when my daddy
went to be with my little mother in Heaven.  Jenny Lind can't talk,"
she admitted regretfully, "but she can sing and she's--she's so
friendly!"

And Mr. Willoughby came down that very night and thanked the Donovans
for the loan of Jenny Lind and for what Mary Rose had said and done.
Larry Donovan and his wife looked at each other after he had gone.  It
was not often that they were thanked by a tenant.

Miss Adams would have died before she would have confessed to anyone
but Mary Rose that she hated Waloo, she hated the Washington.  Mary
Rose looked at her with wide open eyes, too astonished to be shocked
that anyone could hate a world that was as beautiful and as full of
wonderful surprises as Mary Rose found this world to be.

"I don't see how you can be lonesome when there are people above you
and below you and in front of you and behind you and right across from
you.  Why, you're almost entirely surrounded by neighbors," she cried,
as if Miss Adams could not be almost entirely surrounded by anything
more desirable.  "There are almost as many people in this house as
there are in the Presbyterian Church in Mifflin and no one was ever
lonely there except on week days.  Don't you like your neighbors?"

"I don't know them," confessed Miss Adams, mournfully.

"You don't know the people who live right next door to you!"  Mary Rose
had never heard of such a situation.  "Why, when the Jenkses moved from
Prairieville Mrs. Mullins, who'd never set eyes on one of them before,
took over a pan of hot gingerbread so she could get acquainted right
away.  Of course the people here are all moved in, but you could borrow
an egg or a cup of molasses, couldn't you?  And take it back right
away.  That would give you two excuses to call."

"I couldn't do that."  Miss Adams shivered at the mere thought.  "It
isn't that I care to know any of them, Mary Rose, only--it makes me so
mad that I don't!" with a sudden burst of honesty.

"Couldn't you ask about a pattern or what to do for a cold in the head
or how to get red ants off of a plant?  But you haven't any plants.
Wouldn't you feel more friendly if you had a beautiful pink geranium
growing in your window?"

"There isn't sun enough in this flat to keep a geranium alive,"
grumbled Miss Adams, who seemed determined to be lonely and
faultfinding.

Mary Rose sighed.  "Of course, no one can have the sun all the time,"
she said gently, as if to excuse old Sol for not lingering longer in
Miss Adams' small apartment.  "I'll let you have Jenny Lind for a while
tomorrow," she suggested after a moment of frowning thought.  "She'll
cheer you up."

Miss Adams wanted to refuse to be cheered by Jenny Lind, but she had
not the courage, and when Mary Rose brought the bird the next morning
she brought also a small glass dish filled with pebbles on which rested
a little green bulb.

"Inside it is a Japanese lily," she said, and there was both pride and
awe in her voice.  "Don't you wonder how God ever folded it up in such
a small package?  Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary was going to throw it away.
She said it was too late, that it ought to have been planted months
ago, but I said wouldn't she please give it a chance.  My daddy used to
say that was all people needed, just a chance.  Mrs. Mullins had one in
Mifflin, I mean a lily, and it didn't need hardly any sun.  It just
grew and grew.  You can sit beside it in the window and pretend you're
a Japanese queen.  Don't you think it's fun to pretend?  And imagine?
It's almost the same as having everything you want.  I've imagined I
was a queen on a throne and the whale that swallowed Jonah--he must
have been so surprised--and a circus rider and an angel with a harp and
a pussy willow.  I don't know which I liked the best.  It helps a lot
when things go wrong to imagine they're right.  You'll like to see the
Japanese lily come out of its bulb, won't you?"

Miss Adams was polite enough to say she would, although she frowned at
the glass dish as she set it in the window.  If Mary Rose had seen as
much of the world as she had, she wouldn't think that to imagine a
thing was the same as having it.

"I'll tell Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary you're much obliged," Mary Rose
suggested when she left.

Another day Miss Proctor found her leaning against the door of the
apartment she shared with Mrs. Matchan, listening entranced to the
music that Mrs. Matchan was making with her ten fingers and her piano.

"Isn't it beautiful?"  Mary Rose looked up with shining eyes, not at
all abashed at being discovered listening.  "It's better than any
circus band I ever heard.  It's like Jenny Lind when the sun is shining
and she has had a leaf of fresh lettuce.  It makes me feel in my heart
like soda water feels in my nose, all prickly and light," vaguely.
"It's--it's wonderful!  Take this place," she moved generously away
from the crack that Miss Proctor might put her ear to it.  "You can
hear better.  When I grow up I want to play just like that."  Mary Rose
always wanted to do what other people could do.

"Do you?"  Miss Proctor looked at her and forgot that she had
considered children unmitigated nuisances.  She actually opened the
door.  "Come in," she said, "and tell Mrs. Matchan that you like her
music."

And the result of Mary Rose's attempt to put in words the feeling she
had in her heart that was like soda water in her nose, was that Mrs.
Matchan went down to the Donovans' and asked if she might be
permitted--permitted--to give Mary Rose music lessons.

"You could have knocked me down with the pin feather of a chicken,"
Aunt Kate told Uncle Larry.  "I supposed, of course, she'd come tearin'
down to find fault with Mrs. Rawson for runnin' her sewin' machine last
night an' I was all ready to tell her that each of us has some rights,
but no, it was to offer to give Mary Rose lessons on her piano.  She
says the child's got talent an' feelin' an' she'd like to see how she'd
express them.  She had to tell me twice before I could take it in.  It
isn't often that folks come down here to give a favor.  Seems if they
only find the way when they want to complain.  I never knew Mrs.
Matchan to do anythin' for anybody before an' we've lived under the
same roof for most two years now."

She had another surprise when Bob Strahan tramped down the basement
stairs with a big box of Annie Keller chocolates under his arm.  He
solemnly presented the candy to Mary Rose.

"In payment of a debt," he explained gravely when Aunt Kate and Uncle
Larry stared and Mary Rose giggled.  "She helped me with a very
important bit of work," he added, although the addition did not make
the matter any clearer to the Donovans nor to Mary Rose.

"You bet she helped me," he told Miss Carter when he went up and met
her in the lower hall.  They had encountered each other on the stairs
several times since the day of Jenny Lind's adventure and had made the
amazing discovery that they had formerly lived within fifteen miles of
each other and had many mutual friends.  "If it hadn't been for Mary
Rose, I wouldn't be on the staff of the Waloo _Gazette_ today.  They're
cutting off heads down there, and I'm sure mine was slated to go, but
the chief's strong for human interest stuff, especially kid stuff.  He
says that every living being, however hard his outside shell is now,
was once a kid, and sometime the kid stuff will get to him for the sake
of old times.  Mary Rose and the cat she's boarding out saved my neck
and I'm still a man with a job."

"That's splendid."  Miss Carter tried to speak with enthusiasm, but she
could not look enthusiastic.  She was tired and discontented with life;
all the sparkle had gone out of her face.

Bob Strahan saw it and was sorry.  "Say," he said impulsively.  "I've
two tickets for a show in my pocket this minute.  You've known me over
forty-eight hours.  Is that long enough to make it proper for you to go
with me?  I'll give you the names of the banker and the minister in my
old home town and you can call them up on the long distance for
references."

"The idea!"  A bit of sparkle crept back into Miss Carter's face and
she laughed.  "Louis Blodgett's chum doesn't need any reference.  Louis
has told me quite a little about you," significantly.  "It seems
perfectly ridiculous that you were living right next door and I never
knew it."

"And you might not know it now if it hadn't been for Mary Rose and that
canary of hers.  Gee!  I'm glad I took her that box of chocolates."



CHAPTER VIII

With Jenny Lind's cage in her hand, Mary Rose knocked at Miss Thorley's
door.

"We've come to have our pictures taken," she told Miss Carter, when she
opened it.  "The princess, I mean the other lady," she colored pinkly as
Miss Carter laughed, "said we were to advertise Mr. Bingham Henderson's
jam."  Mary Rose always made a careful explanation.  "If she would like
two birds I'm almost sure that Mrs. Schuneman would loan her Germania."

"Do you want two birds, Bess?" called Miss Carter, and Miss Thorley came
in.

She wore a faded blue smock over her crash gown and looked more beautiful
than before to Mary Rose's admiring eyes.

"I think I have two birds," she laughed, and patted Mary Rose's head and
snapped her fingers at Jenny Lind.  "But don't tell me old Lady Grouch is
so human as to have a canary."

"Old Lady Grouch?"  Mary Rose did not know whom she meant.

"Schuneman, is that her name?" absently.  Miss Thorley was studying Mary
Rose from behind half shut eyes.  Just how should she pose her?

"Oh, but she isn't grouchy!" Mary Rose flew to the defense of her new
friend.  "She was just lonesome.  Now that she has Germania for company,
she is very, very pleasant.  I go to see her every day."

Miss Thorley shrugged her shoulders.  "Every one to their taste.  Stand
here, Mary Rose, so that the sun will fall on that yellow mop of yours.
Would your heart break if I took off that hair ribbon?  I'd rather your
hair was loose."

"Aunt Kate put it there," doubtfully.

"I'll put it back before Aunt Kate sees you.  Now, just hold Jenny Lind's
cage under one arm and these under the other."  She handed her a couple
of blue and white jars, labeled with big letters--"Henderson-Bingham.
Jam Manufacturers."  "Can you hold another?  Don't say yes if you can't,
for it is tiresome to pose when you're not used to it.  Now then, how is
that, Blanche?  Isn't she ducky?  You know it's moving day, Mary Rose,
and you won't trust anyone but yourself to move what you like best, your
bird and your jam."

"I just did move," proudly, "from Mifflin to Waloo."

"Exactly.  Quaint, isn't she?" Miss Thorley murmured to Miss Carter.
"How old are you, Mary Rose?"

Before Mary Rose could stammer that she was going on fourteen Miss Carter
broke in to say that she was off.

"Be good to Mary Rose," she begged.  "And, Mary Rose, when you are tired,
say so.  Miss Thorley will forget all about you when she is interested in
the picture and she'll let you stand there until you drop.  I know.  You
have a hard pose with your arms like that and when you are tired be sure
and say so."

"Oh, run along, Blanche, and leave us alone," Miss Thorley said
impatiently as she got her drawing board and brushes and sat down beside
the little table that held her paints.

Miss Carter only waited to make a face at Mary Rose before she shut the
door and left the artist and her model together.  Neither spoke for a few
moments.  Mary Rose was too interested in watching Miss Thorley's
wonderful fingers and Miss Thorley was too intent on her work for
conversation.  At last Mary Rose could keep still no longer.

"Are you really an enchanted princess?" she asked eagerly.

"I should scarcely call myself that, Mary Rose.  A working woman is the
way I say it."

"Then what did Mr. Jerry mean?  Don't you think he is an awfully nice
man?  He makes me think of Alvin Lewis in Mifflin, only Alvin isn't quite
so stylish.  He is a clerk in the drug store in Mifflin and he was real
pleasant.  When Gladys and I only had a nickel he'd let us have a glass
of ice cream soda with two spoons.  He was such a pleasant man.  But what
did Mr. Jerry mean," she returned to her mutton with a suddenness that
made Miss Thorley blur a line, "when he said you were under the spell of
the wicked witch Independence?"

"How should I know?"  And Miss Thorley frowned in a way that made Mary
Rose wish she wouldn't.  It quite spoiled her face to frown with it.

"What is Independence?"  Mary Rose frowned, too.  As Aunt Kate had said,
frowns were contagious.  Mary Rose had caught one now in a flash.

Miss Thorley took up a handful of brushes and regarded them intently
before she said slowly: "Independence is the greatest thing in the world,
Mary Rose.  It means that I can live as I choose, where I choose, that I
can pay my own bills, buy my own clothes and food, that I can do exactly
as I please and as I think best.  The independence of women is the most
wonderful thing in this wonderful age."

Mary Rose looked puzzled.  Mr. Jerry had not spoken of it as if it were
such a wonderful thing.  She looked around the pretty room with its
simple furnishings and then at Miss Thorley.

"Does it mean you aren't ever going to be married?" she asked doubtfully.
In Mifflin all the girls as big as Miss Thorley meant to be married.

"It means exactly that."  Miss Thorley's pretty lips were pressed closer
together.  "Work, Mary Rose, is the most important thing in life."

But Mary Rose was horrified.  "Aren't you ever going to make a home for a
family?" she cried.  She couldn't believe that was what Miss Thorley
meant and she dropped a jam jar.  "You don't have to stop work to do it,"
she cried eagerly and helpfully after she had retrieved the jar.  "Mrs.
Evans, she's Gladys' mother, says she'd think the millennium was here if
she didn't have any work to do.  She has five children at home and three
in the cemetery."  Miss Thorley shuddered.  "She can cook and sew and
sweep and play the piano and she belongs to the Woman's Club and the
Missionary Society and the Revolution Daughters and the Presbyterian
Church.  You don't ever have to stop working to make a home for a
family," she repeated with a nod of encouragement to Miss Thorley who
looked disgusted instead of pleased as Mary Rose had expected she would
look.

"That isn't the kind of work I care for," and she shrugged her shoulders.
"I should think your Mrs. Evans would die."

"She hasn't time to die," Mary Rose told her seriously.  "She's too busy
taking care of Mr. Evans and her family and helping other people.  She's
a fine woman, everyone said in Mifflin.  When I grow up I want to be just
like her," emphatically.

"Oh, Mary Rose!  You want to be something besides a drudge.  Women have
other things to do now but cook and sew and look after crying babies."

"Babies don't cry unless there's a pin sticking into them or they have
the colic, and, anyway, I think babies are the dearest things God ever
made.  I'd like to have twelve when I grow up, six boys and six girls.  I
don't ever want an only child.  It's too lonesome.  Don't you ever get
lonesome, Miss Thorley?"

"I have my work," Miss Thorley told her briefly.

Mary Rose watched her at her work.  She admired Miss Thorley's swift,
sure strokes, but she drew a sigh that came from the tips of her shabby
shoes as she murmured: "All the same I don't understand just what Mr.
Jerry meant."

Miss Thorley did not answer, unless a frown could be considered an
answer.  She painted for perhaps five minutes longer, but her strokes
were not so swift nor so sure.  At last she threw down her brushes as if
she hated herself for doing it, but realized she could do nothing else.

"Mary Rose," she said crossly.  Even Mary Rose could see that she was not
pleased with something.  "I don't feel like painting today.  It's too
warm or something.  If I could find a little girl about," she looked
critically at Mary Rose, "about ten years old, I think I'd ask her to go
out to the lake with me."

"Oh!"  Mary Rose forgot that she was posing and dropped both jam jars.
She almost dropped Jenny Lind, too.  She remembered Aunt Kate's request
as she clung to the cage.  "Would one going on fourteen be too old?"  Her
voice trembled and her heart beat fast for fear Miss Thorley would say
that was far too old.  "If she should be a long, long time, perhaps three
years, before she got to fourteen?"

Miss Thorley's face was as sober as a judge's as she considered this.
"Well," she said at last very slowly, "one going on fourteen might do.
Run and ask your aunt and I'll meet you downstairs."

Mary Rose obeyed after she had hugged Miss Thorley.  "You're an angel,"
she exclaimed fervently, "a regular seraphim and cherubim angel, if you
are independent."

She almost fell down the stairs and made such a racket that a door on the
second floor opened promptly.  Mary Rose caught her breath.  She was
afraid to see whose door was ajar.  If that cross Mr. Wells should catch
her she was afraid to think what he might do.  But it was not Mr. Wells'
door that had opened, nor Mr. Wells' face that looked at her.  An elderly
woman stood staring at her impatiently.

"Dearie me!" she was saying, "I thought the house was falling down."

"No, ma'am."  Mary Rose was very apologetic.  "I just stumbled a teeny
bit.  You see I'm in such a hurry because Miss Thorley's going to take me
to the lake and I must carry Jenny Lind downstairs and tell Aunt Kate and
be at the front door in a jiffy."  She would have darted on but the
elderly lady put out a wrinkled hand and caught Mary Rose's blue and
white checked apron.

"Who's Jenny Lind?" she demanded.

"This is Jenny Lind."  Mary Rose held up the cage.  "The best bird that
ever had feathers.  She came with me from Mifflin and Miss Thorley's
painting our picture for Mr. Henderson Bingham."

The old lady looked at Jenny Lind in a strange way.  "I haven't seen a
canary bird for years," she murmured, more to herself than to Mary Rose.

[Illustration: "'I haven't seen a canary bird for years,' she murmured."]

Mary Rose answered her impulsively as she usually answered people.
"Would you like to have her visit you until I come back?  I'm not going
to take her with us.  She wouldn't be any trouble.  She's used to
visiting.  All you have to do is to let her have a chair or a table to
sit on."  She offered the cage generously.

The old lady seemed to hesitate.  She looked like Gladys' grandmother,
only not so comfortable, Mary Rose thought.  At last she held out her
hand.

"I declare I don't know but I will let you leave it with me.  I'm all
alone, and even a bird is company."

"Jenny Lind's splendid company.  Shall I put her on the table for you?
There!  I'll run up before supper and get her.  And don't you worry,
because Uncle Larry said the law doesn't say one word about birds."  And
before startled Mother Johnson could ask her what she meant by the law,
she ran off, stumbling down the two flights of stairs to the basement.
Only the special Providence that looks after children saved her.

Aunt Kate was in the kitchen and she exclaimed in surprise when she heard
that Mary Rose was going to the lake with Miss Thorley and had left Jenny
Lind to spend the afternoon with the grandmother on the second floor.

"My soul an' body!" she said.  "Whatever will you do next!"

Mary Rose saw Mr. Jerry in his car in the alley and ran to the open
window to tell him of the pleasure that was in store for her.

"Mr. Jerry!  Oh, Mr. Jerry!  I'm going to the lake with the enchanted
princess.  Don't you wish you were me?"

Mr. Jerry waved his hand as he smiled and nodded, but Mary Rose did not
wait to hear whether he would like to change places with her, for she had
to slip out of the plaid skirt and middy blouse into a white frock that
Aunt Kate had shortened.

"Isn't it the luckiest thing that Ella had so many beautiful clothes!"
she said breathlessly.  "I shouldn't want to go out with Miss Thorley in
that horrid boys' suit."

She was ready first, and as she waited in the lower hall she talked to
Mrs. Schuneman about Germania.  Miss Thorley found them together when she
came down, looking exactly like a princess to Mary Rose, in her white
linen skirt and lingerie blouse and with a big black hat all a-bloom with
pink roses on her red-brown head.

"I was ready first," Mary Rose cried happily, "but I didn't mind waiting,
for I was talking to a friend, to Mrs. Schuneman.  She has Germania, you
know.  This is my friend, Miss Thorley, Mrs. Schuneman."  She introduced
them politely.

Miss Thorley nodded carelessly, but even a careless glance told her that
there was not the sign of a grouch on Mrs. Schuneman's fat red face that
day.  Indeed, it quite beamed with friendliness as she hoped that they
would have a good time.

"You see, she's very pleasant when you know her," Mary Rose explained as
they walked over to the street car.  "That's why it's so important to
know people.  If you don't really know them, you might often think they
were grouchy when they aren't."



CHAPTER IX

Lake Nokomis was on the outskirts of Waloo and was a popular pleasure
resort for Waloo people from June until September.  A band played in
the pavilion, there was a moving picture show, a merry-go-round with a
wheezy organ, a roller coaster and many other amusement features, as
well as several ice-cream parlors.  There was always a crowd drifting
from one place to another, and Mary Rose fairly danced with delight
when she and Miss Thorley became a part of the good-natured throng.

They were standing beside the enclosure in which the fat Shetland
ponies waited for the children who were fortunate enough to possess a
nickel to pay for a ride on their broad backs or a drive in a roomy
carriage, when Mary Rose saw Mr. Jerry.  She had sadly refused Miss
Thorley's invitation to ride because she did not wish to leave her
alone, and Miss Thorley would not ride one of the ponies nor drive in
one of the carriages.

"There's Mr. Jerry!" squealed Mary Rose when she saw him.  She could
scarcely believe her eyes, but she waved her hand.  "He's the man who
boards my cat, you know," she explained to Miss Thorley.  "And he's
very pleasant and friendly, just like a Mifflin man."

Miss Thorley looked first surprised and then displeased and then she
frowned and shrugged her shoulders as if she did not really care
whether Mr. Jerry was there or not.  She gave him rather a curt
greeting when he joined them with a cheery:

"Hullo, Mary Rose.  Are you thinking of a canter in the park?"

There was nothing curt in the greeting Mary Rose gave him.  She smiled
enchantingly and slipped her hand into his.  "We're just watching the
ponies.  Aren't they loves?  Miss Thorley thinks they are too small for
her to ride, but I don't see how she can be sure unless she tries.  Do
you know Mr. Jerry, Miss Thorley?  He's making such a comfortable home
for George Washington.  She didn't feel like painting today," she
explained to Mr. Jerry, "so we came out for a change.  Oh, I do just
love that blackest pony, but no one seems to choose him!"  She pointed
an eager finger to the corner where the blackest and fattest pony stood
neglected.

"Suppose you choose him.  I've money to treat a lady friend to a ride."
And he made a pleasant jingle with the coins in his pocket.

"Miss Thorley invited me, but I didn't like to leave her alone.  Would
you stay with her, Mr. Jerry?  It would be real friendly of you to me
and the pony, for if I don't take him I'm afraid no one will, and he'll
feel so sad when he goes home tonight.  Will you take good care of Miss
Thorley, Mr. Jerry?"

"I will," promised Mr. Jerry emphatically, although Miss Thorley
exclaimed hurriedly that she could take care of herself.  He found a
bench from which they could watch Mary Rose as she made the black pony
happy and rode around the ring, prouder than any peacock.

"Funny kid, isn't she?" remarked Mr. Jerry, realizing that if there was
to be any conversation between them he would have to begin.  "I wish
you could have seen her when she came over with her cat to ask if we
would take the beast to board.  Who's the owner of that joint of yours?
I'd like to tell him what I think of him for separating a homesick
little girl from her pet."

"It would be rather a nuisance if the place was overrun with cats and
dogs and children," Miss Thorley said coldly.  "There wouldn't be much
peace or comfort in the house."

"The peace and comfort you've had don't seem to agree with all of you,"
remarked Mr. Jerry pleasantly.  "I've seen some of your neighbors who
look as if they needed a big dose of noise and discomfort."

"You must mean Mr. Wells.  He does have rather a touch-me-not,
speak-to-me-never manner.  And the fuss he makes if there is any noise
in the place after ten o'clock!  Imagine him with a cat or a bird."
The picture her imagination made was so impossible that she laughed.

Mr. Jerry drew a contented sigh and ventured to move a trifle nearer.
He started to say something and then changed his mind.  He wouldn't say
anything just then that might bring back that distant expression to her
face.  He knew very well how cold and forbidding she could be.  So
instead of saying what he wished to say he talked of Mary Rose and
George Washington, and she listened and smiled and made holes in the
turf with her parasol, but never once did she speak of the conversation
she had had with Mary Rose which had caused her to throw down her
brushes and treat herself to a holiday.

Mary Rose's face was an incandescent light as, with a good-by pat for
the blackest pony, she ran back to them.

"I felt like a queen!" she cried.  "It was splendid.  Oh, won't you
have a ride?"  She looked from one to the other.  "I'll pay.  I'm
making lots of money.  You needn't worry another minute about George
Washington's board," she told Mr. Jerry.  "It's as good as paid."

He laughed.  "I won't worry and I shan't ride the ponies.  My legs are
too long.  I'd have to tie double knots in them to keep them off the
ground.  But I'll take a turn on the merry-go-round with you."  He
nodded toward that attractive circle of animals as it went around and
around to the accompaniment of the wheezy organ.  "I dare you to come
with us."  He looked straight at Miss Thorley.

"Oh, please!"  Mary Rose clapped her hands.  "You will, won't you, Miss
Thorley?  You needn't be afraid," she whispered.  "I'm sure he's strong
enough to hold you on."

Miss Thorley looked anything but afraid as she frowned at the
merry-go-round and at Mr. Jerry impartially.  But when she met Mary
Rose's eyes, filled with a great hunger for merry-go-rounds, she
laughed softly and told Mr. Jerry that, of course, she wouldn't take a
dare, she never had and she never would, and she thought she'd choose
the giraffe because his long neck gave a rider so much to cling to.

It was not easy for Mary Rose to choose a mount.  Each animal seemed so
very desirable that she sighed as she finally selected an ostrich for
the same reason that she had taken the black pony.  "I haven't seen a
single person ride him and I expect he feels neglected."

But when they mounted the merry-go-round Miss Thorley stepped into a
gay little sleigh drawn by two fat polar bears.  After he had seen Mary
Rose properly astride the neglected ostrich Mr. Jerry took the seat
beside Miss Thorley.

"I promised Mary Rose that I wouldn't let you fall out," he said, as if
that could be the only reason he would ride beside her.

Much to Mary Rose's amazement, Miss Thorley was satisfied with one
ride, although Mr. Jerry very handsomely offered them a turn on each
animal.  Mary Rose could not resist such an invitation and one by one
she rode on a giraffe, a camel, and a lion.

"Mercy, mercy, Mary Rose!" Miss Thorley said at last.  "You must stop.
Your head will be completely turned.  And we must go home."

"Won't you ride back with me?" asked Mr. Jerry.  "I have the car.  If
you will, we have time for a sundae first."

Mary Rose's heart all but stopped beating as she waited for Miss
Thorley to say they would.  It didn't seem possible that anyone, even
an independent woman, could refuse such an alluring invitation.  But
grown-ups were queer.  Mary Rose had found that out long, long ago.
She did not hesitate for even the fraction of a second when Miss
Thorley turned and left the decision to her.  A moment later they were
in the ice cream parlor that was like a cool green cave after the heat
and the light outside.

Mary Rose chose a chocolate sundae and she giggled as she looked at the
rich brown sauce.  "When I was little, nothing but a baby," she said,
"I thought that it was the yellow in the eggs I ate that made my hair
yellow.  Do you suppose if I ate lots and lots of chocolate, I'd ever
have hair as brown as Miss Thorley's.  Isn't it beautiful, Mr. Jerry?"

"Very beautiful!" Mr. Jerry agreed as heartily as she could wish.

Miss Thorley flushed uncomfortably under the admiration of Mr. Jerry
and Mary Rose.  "Mary Rose," she said hurriedly, "don't you know you
shouldn't make personal remarks?"

"Eh?"  Mary Rose's attention was centered in the well she was making in
her ice cream for the chocolate syrup.

"You shouldn't talk of people's hair and eyes." The rebuke was far more
feeble than Miss Thorley had meant it to be.

"You shouldn't!"  Mary Rose was so surprised that she left the well
half made.  "Why, in Mifflin when we liked the way a friend looked we
always told them."

Miss Thorley pushed away her sundae.  "Mary Rose, if you say Mifflin
again, I'll scream."

Mary Rose's cheeks turned as pink as Miss Thorley's cheeks had turned.
"That's what Aunt Kate says sometimes, but if you like a place the way
I like Mifflin you just have to talk about it.  It's--it's in your
heart."

"Talk about it to me, Mary Rose," Mr. Jerry offered kindly.  "It
doesn't make me cross to hear of a place where people are kind and
friendly.  My conscience is perfectly clear."  He spoke as if he were
very proud of his clear conscience.

Miss Thorley pushed back her chair.  "It doesn't make me cross," she
said, "only----"

They waited courteously to hear what would follow "only," but nothing
ever did.  Miss Thorley just jumped up and said instead that really
they must go.  Mr. Jerry's eyes twinkled as he agreed with her.

It was far more pleasant riding to town in Mr. Jerry's automobile than
it would have been in the crowded street car.  Mary Rose called Miss
Thorley's attention to the crowd as she snuggled close to her in the
spacious tonneau.

"I'm playing it's mine," she whispered, "and that Mr. Jerry is my own
driver.  Wouldn't it be fun to drive with him forever and ever?"

Mr. Jerry heard her and sharpened his ears for the answer.

"You'd get tired riding forever with anyone, Mary Rose.  There is only
one thing that people never get tired of."

"What's that?" Mary Rose hungered to hear.

"Work."  Mr. Jerry sniffed.  They could hear him in the tonneau.

Mary Rose shook her head.  "Gladys' mother did.  She said she had never
had enough fun to know whether she would get tired of it or not, but
she'd had plenty of chance to know there were some things she never
wanted to see again, and one of them was work and the other was the red
and black plaid silk dress that the dressmaker spoiled."

Mr. Jerry chuckled on the front seat and after a second Miss Thorley
laughed, too.

"Mary Rose," she said very distinctly, "I'll have to give you a broader
vision.  You have entirely too narrow an outlook."

"What's that, Miss Thorley?  What's a broader vision?"  Mary Rose
couldn't imagine.

It was Mr. Jerry who answered.  "In this particular case, Mary Rose,
it's seeing far too much for one and not enough for two."

As they rolled up to the Washington Miss Carter came down the street
with Bob Strahan whom she had met on the car.  It was amazing, now that
they were on speaking terms, how often they met.  Bob Strahan stopped
to open the door of the automobile and help Miss Thorley out, and Mary
Rose proudly introduced Mr. Jerry who boarded her cat.  They all
laughed and talked together for a few minutes and then Mary Rose hopped
from the back seat to the front.

"I'll go around and see George Washington, if you don't mind," she
said.  "Hasn't it been just the loveliest afternoon, the kind you're
always hoping for but never really expect to have," with a sigh of
rapture.  She patted Mr. Jerry's arm lovingly.  "Isn't Miss Thorley a
darling!  She told me all about that Independence.  It isn't a witch as
you thought, Mr. Jerry, it's something about wanting to pay her own
bills and live alone.  I don't understand it," she frowned, "but that's
what she said."

Mr. Jerry frowned too, as he turned into the alley.  "She doesn't
know," he said briefly.  "Take it from me, Mary Rose, that Independence
is an old witch, and she's enchanted more girls than you could count."

Mary Rose looked doubtful.  "If Miss Thorley really is enchanted," she
suggested, "we must find something to break the spell.  I told her she
wouldn't have to stop work to make a home for a family, Mr. Jerry," she
whispered encouragingly.

"Did you?"  Mr. Jerry laughed.  "What did she say?"

Mary Rose knit her small brows before she answered.  "I don't think she
just agreed with me, but I'll explain it to her again."



CHAPTER X

When Mary Rose ran up to get Jenny Lind young Mrs. Johnson met her at
the door and smiled pleasantly.

"You're the little girl for the canary?" she said.  "I was
wondering--Mother Johnson seems to have taken a fancy to you--and I
wondered if you would go out for a little walk with her every morning.
I'll pay you ten cents a day."

Mary Rose's eyes popped open.  In Mifflin little girls were expected to
do what they were asked to do and were never paid for such tasks.

"Why, of course, I'd be glad to," she said promptly.

"That will be splendid.  You see she won't go by herself and I have my
own engagements.  The doctor said she must have some exercise," sighed
Mrs. Johnson, as if the doctor had made a most unreasonable demand.
"Suppose you come up tomorrow about eleven?  That will give you time
for a good walk before lunch."

"I'll soon be making money enough to send for Solomon," Mary Rose told
Mrs. Donovan, her voice trembling with excitement.  "There's ten cents
a day from Grandma Johnson and ten cents from Mrs. Bracken for washing
the breakfast dishes and a quarter from Miss Thorley.  Why, Aunt Kate,
I never thought there was so much money in the world as what I'm going
to earn by myself!"

Aunt Kate laughed as she hugged her.  "There's no one in the house can
be cross to her," she told Uncle Larry proudly.

Promptly at eleven o'clock the next morning Mary Rose was waiting for
Mother Johnson who grumbled and fussed before she could be persuaded to
take the walk the doctor had recommended.  But, once outside, the sky
was so blue, the air so pleasant, and Mary Rose so sociable that her
face grew less peevish.

"Where shall we go?"  Mary Rose paused at the corner.  "You see I'm a
stranger here.  In Mifflin I knew the way everywhere.  Aunt Kate said
there was a little park over this street.  Perhaps it would be pleasant
there?"

Mother Johnson said grumpily that it made little difference to her, all
she wanted was to have her walk over and be home again.

"But you'll feel better after your exercise," promised Mary Rose.  "I
should think you'd love to be outdoors.  Your home is very pretty, but
it isn't like the outdoors, you know.  Did you ever see the sky so
blue?  It looks as if it was made out of the very silk that was in Miss
Lucy Miller's bridesmaid's dress.  It was the most beautiful dress Miss
Lena Carlson ever made.  Miss Lena goes out sewing for a dollar and a
half a day."  And she described the wedding at which Miss Lucy Miller
had worn the frock made by the dollar and a half a day seamstress with
an enthusiasm that was undimmed by Mother Johnson's lack of interest.
From the wedding and Miss Lucy it was but a step to other Mifflin
happenings.  They found themselves in the park before they knew it.

"It's something like the cemetery in Mifflin," Mary Rose said after she
had looked about.  "Of course, there aren't any graves but there is a
monument and seats.  Do you want to sit down?  Oh, do look, grandma!
Do look," and she pulled the black sleeve beside her.

Since she had come to Waloo Mother Johnson had not been called grandma
and she had missed the grandchildren she had left behind more than she
realized.  Mary Rose had called most of the older women in Mifflin
grandma--Grandma Robinson and Grandma Smith.  It was a friendly little
custom that was in vogue there and so she had unhesitatingly called old
Mrs. Johnson grandma.  Mrs. Johnson was so surprised that she had
nothing to say when Mary Rose pulled her to a bench and pointed a
trembling finger at a little brownish-grayish animal which stood up in
the grass and looked at them with bright eyes.

"Do you see what that is?" Mary Rose's voice shook.  "It's a squirrel!
A really truly squirrel in this big city!  Here, squirrelly,
squirrelly," she snapped her fingers.  "I wish I had something to feed
you!" despairingly as the squirrel ran away.

[Illustration: "'It's a squirrel!  A really truly squirrel in this big
city!'"]

Grandma Johnson had her purse in the bag she carried and she opened it
and took out five cents.  "Here," she said crossly, "go and get
something to feed him with if that's what you're crying for."

Mary Rose straightened herself and threw her arms around Grandma
Johnson's knees.  "Why--why!" she gasped, "I do think you are a regular
fairy godmother!"

Grandma Johnson had been called several names since she had been in the
Washington.  Once she had heard Hilda in the kitchen speak of her as
"the old hen" and had almost had apoplexy.  And Larry Donovan had
muttered that she was "an old crank" which was what one might expect of
a mannerless janitor but no one had ever called her a fairy godmother.
It sounded rather pleasant.  She actually smiled as Mary Rose ran over
to the popcorn wagon on the corner and came back with a bag of peanuts.

"What wouldn't I give if Tom had a girl like that!" she sighed.  "But
then he'd have to move.  Children aren't allowed in the Washington."

Mary Rose insisted on an exact division of the nuts.  "You want to feed
them just as much as I do."  She hadn't a doubt of that.  "So you must
have half.  When the squirrel sees how many we have perhaps he'll bring
his brothers and sisters and have a squirrel party," she giggled.

Indeed, it did seem as if the squirrel had sent out invitations when he
saw the heap of nuts that Mary Rose and Grandma Johnson had beside them
for, one after another, other squirrels came until half a dozen
clustered around them.  They were very tame.  One even climbed up Mary
Rose's arm for the nut she held between her lips and Grandma Johnson
lured another to her shoulder.

"Aren't they ducks?" Mary Rose demanded.  A red poppy blossomed in each
of her cheeks and her eyes were lit with candles.  "I do believe the
Lord sent them here to be pets for people who live in houses where
there's a law against dogs and cats and children.  I think it was--it
was wonderful in Him!  Don't you?  Shall we come every day and feed
them?  Then they'll really get acquainted with us and we'll be friends.
Oh, I'm so glad that I know you--that we know each other!"  She threw
her arms around the startled Grandma Johnson and gave her another hug.

They met Mrs. Schuneman on the steps when they went home and Mary Rose
had to stop and tell her the wonderful news, that the Lord had put pets
in the park for people who couldn't have them in their homes.  She
introduced Grandma Johnson and Mrs. Schuneman, who had looked at each
other furtively when they had met in the halls but who had never spoken
until now.

"It's just as well not to make friends with the people who live in the
same apartment house you do," young Mrs. Johnson had told Grandma when
she came to make her home with her son.  "You can't tell who they are."

"You can tell they are human beings," Mother Johnson had muttered but
that was not enough for her daughter-in-law and the older woman had
been too depressed by the strangeness of everything about her to make
friends for herself.

She even hesitated now when Mary Rose's inquiry after the health of
Germania brought an invitation to step in and see how much at home
Germania was.  But in Mary Rose's opinion one could not refuse such an
invitation and she drew Grandma Johnson in to admire and to exclaim
over Germania, who did seem very contented.  They had a very pleasant
little visit and Mrs. Schuneman eagerly asked them both to come again.
Mother Johnson gathered courage to say she would, she'd be glad to.

"Haven't we had a gorgeous time?" Mary Rose asked as they went up the
stairs.  "I think it's very kind of you to let me go walking with you.
I'm so glad the doctor said you needed exercise."

And Grandma Johnson smiled and patted the small shoulder.  There was
not a trace of the old peevishness on her face which was like a
withered apple.  "I don't know but I'm glad, too, Mary Rose.  I'll see
you tomorrow."

"You certainly will.  Won't the squirrels be glad to see us?  Good-by."
She ran down the stairs with the ten cents in her hand.  The coin
dropped on the landing and rolled away.  She was looking for it when
Mr. Wells came up and almost walked over her.  Mary Rose was on her
feet in a flash.

"Good morning," she said politely.  "I'm looking for the dime I
dropped.  I earned it walking with Grandma Johnson.  We had the
grandest time in the park.  Did you know that there are pets there for
people who can't have them in their homes?  They're squirrels and the
Lord put them there.  Oh, here's my dime.  Good-by."  And she ran on
while Mr. Wells stood and stared after her as if he thought he or she
had lost their wits and he was not sure which.

He went on up and met Larry Donovan.

"Donovan," he said sharply.  "I thought children were not allowed in
this building?"

"No more they are, Mr. Wells," Larry tried to speak pleasantly.
"There's a clause in every lease that says so."

"Then why do you allow a child to run all over the place?" Mr. Wells
wanted to know and he scowled fiercely.

Larry straightened himself and a dull red crept up into his face.  "If
you mean my niece by your remarks," he said stiffly, "she isn't a
child.  She's--she's," he stumbled, "she's goin' on fourteen."

"She has a long time to go before she ever reaches fourteen," grimly.
"Do Brown and Lawson know you have a child living with you?"

"They do not."  Larry's tone was as short and crisp as pie crust.

"H-m," was all Mr. Wells said to that but he looked at Larry before he
went into his apartment and slammed the door.

"The ol' chimpanzee 'll tell Brown an' Lawson," Uncle Larry told Aunt
Kate when he came down and found her in the bedroom.  "That's what
he'll do.  He's goin' to complain about Mary Rose."

Aunt Kate stared at him.  "An' what'll you do, Larry Donovan?  What'll
you do then?"

"I'll tell them they know what they can do if they don't like it," he
answered gruffly.  "I've been a good man for the place.  I've kept the
peace with the tenants though, God knows, it's been no easy job.  I've
kept the bills down an' made a lot of the repairs myself an' if Brown
an' Lawson want to fire me just because my niece, my wife's niece, an
inoffensive little kid, is livin' with us why they can fire.  That's
what they can do.  I'd be ashamed to stay an' work for them."

"Larry," Mrs. Donovan put her arms around her husband and kissed him.
"Larry Donovan, I'm that proud of you I can't see!"  And she put her
hand over her wet eyes.  "Then you like to have Mary Rose here?"

"I'll tell you the truth, Kate, dear.  The little thing has made
herself necessary to me.  That's what she's done.  We got along all
right without her but that was because we didn't know what it was to
have a kid in the house.  No, sir, Mary Rose is one of the fam'ly and
she stays with the fam'ly.  She's good for the tenants, too.  See what
she's done for Mrs. Willoughby an' Mrs. Schuneman.  The ol' lady called
me in to hear her bird sing this very morning.  An' Mrs. Bracken, who's
so busy club workin' for other folks she hasn't any time for her home,
tells me Mary Rose is the biggest kind of a help to her.  I thought she
was goin' to jaw me about fixin' that back window 't sticks a bit.  I
should have fixed it before but it clean slipped my mind, an' I up an'
asked her how Mary Rose was doing.  She forgot the window to talk about
the kid.  'Ain't she small for her age?' says she.  'I guess you don't
know much about childern,' says I.  'Mary Rose's as big as she should
be!'  'When I was fourteen,' says she, 'I weighed a hunderd an' ten
poun's.'  'That's a good weight for a growing girl,' says I.  'I don't
believe you weigh much more'n that now, Mrs. Bracken,' says I.  And
that ended it.  She weighs a hunderd an' thirty if she weighs a pound.
An' then there's the Johnsons.  Young Mrs. Johnson said this morning
that it would be a blessed relief if Mary Rose'd get the ol' lady out
every day.  I guess there's a place for her here all right, whether ol'
Wells sees it or not."

"Wouldn't it be just as well for you to tell Brown an' Lawson your
story first?" asked Mrs. Donovan.  "Of course, when it's a tenant
again' a janitor the janitor don't stand much show.  But if you tell
the agents that your wife's niece, a girl goin' on fourteen, is staying
with you an' makin' herself useful to the tenants they won't come here
with a lot of confusin' questions when Mr. Wells has had his say.
Seems if it was the one who spoke first who gets the mos' attention.
Haven't you any errand that could take you down there the first thing
in the mornin'?"

Larry laughed scornfully.  "I have that.  I can al'ys find a complaint
to carry if I'm so minded.  I guess you're right an' it won't do no
harm to get our side in first.  Where's Mary Rose now?"

"She's gone over to Mr. Jerry's.  The cat's board's overdue."
Evidently Aunt Kate thought that overdue board was a laughing matter
for she chuckled.  "Mary Rose was horrified when she remembered she'd
forgotten to pay but I said Mr. Jerry 'd understand that she wasn't
used to business.  So long as she paid in the end a little waiting
wouldn't matter."


Mr. Jerry had just driven into the garage when the delinquent Mary Rose
slipped in at the back gate.

"Hullo, Mary Rose," he called cheerily.

"I've come to pay George Washington's board," importantly.  "I'm
ashamed I'm late but I forgot.  I'm not used to business," she
apologized, mortification dyeing her cheeks pink.

"That's all right.  But if it's board you're going to pay we'd better
go in and see my Aunt Mary."

His Aunt Mary looked mildly surprised when Mary Rose announced that she
had come to pay George Washington's board and she was sorry she was
late.  Aunt Mary pursed her lips in a way that made Mary Rose quake
until she remembered that she was earning a lot of money and it really
didn't matter if the board was more than fifty cents.  And George
Washington did have an awful appetite.

Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary was saying so.  "That cat is perfectly hollow.
It's amazing the milk he drinks.  He has been here a little over a
week, Mary Rose," again mortification painted Mary Rose's cheeks, "and
in that time he has caught five mice.  It is impossible to estimate the
damage that five mice would have done if they hadn't been caught so I
figure that George Washington has earned his own board."

"Why, George Washington!"  Mary Rose could scarcely grasp this but when
she did she caught the cat to her in a rapturous hug.  "Isn't he the
very smartest cat?  Why, he's self-supporting, isn't he?"  And she
hugged him again.  "If he keeps on earning his board I can send for
Solomon.  I don't suppose you would want to board a dog, too?  I think
I'd almost feel as if I were in Heaven to have my animal friends with
me again."

"What kind of dog is Solomon?" Mr. Jerry asked carelessly.  "I've been
thinking of buying a dog but perhaps I could rent old Sol."

"Mr. Jerry!  I'd be glad to let you have him for his board.  He's
splendid, a real fox terrier, and that clever.  He can do lots of
tricks.  You couldn't help but love him.  He's so affectionate and
friendly."

"It was a fox terrier that I thought of buying.  Then we can consider
that settled, Mary Rose.  You send for Sol as soon as you please and
I'll board him for the use of him.  I think he would look well on the
front seat of the car."

Mary Rose had jumped to her feet and, with George Washington still in
her arms, she threw herself on Mr. Jerry in a perfect spasm of
delighted gratitude that brought tears to the eyes of both of them for
George Washington was not accustomed to being squeezed between a young
man and a little girl.

"What a--what a splendid man you are!" cried Mary Rose.  "You're like
King Arthur and Robin Hood, always succoring the friendless though I'm
not friendless when I have you and your Aunt Mary and all the people
over there."  She nodded across at the white face of the Washington.

"All the people?" questioned Mr. Jerry.  He had heard of some of them
who did not act friendly.

"Well, perhaps not all--yet," amended Mary Rose.  "I do like to be
friends with people, Mr. Jerry.  It gives you such a comfortable
feeling inside.  When you're not friends it's just as if you had the
stomachache and the headache at the same time."

Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary brought in some cookies and three glasses of
ginger ale, all sparkling and frosty.

"It's a party," beamed Mary Rose.  "I've always thought the world was
full of nice people and now I know it.  Aunt Kate's forever telling me
that I'm too little to know the good from the bad but I tell her there
isn't any bad, that the Lord wouldn't waste His time and dust, and
anyway I have the right kind of an eye.  I showed that when I made
friends with you and Mr. Jerry."

When she left she hesitated at the gate.  "Would it be a bother if I
brought a friend over to see George Washington?" she ventured.  "I'd
like Miss Thorley to meet him and then perhaps she'd paint his picture."

"I should think she would," promptly agreed Mr. Jerry.  "He's a cat who
deserves to have his portrait painted.  Bring over any friends you
wish, Mary Rose," hospitably, "but let me know first so George
Washington will be home.  Sometimes I take him out with me," gravely.

Mary Rose gazed at him with adoration.  "I don't believe I could have
found a better boarding place for him, not if I had searched all Waloo.
I'll let you know, Mr. Jerry, just as soon as I know myself."



CHAPTER XI

But before Mary Rose could write the letter that would tell Jimmie
Bronson that she was now financially able to maintain her animal
friends she had a big surprise.

The day had been warm and sultry, the sort that makes every nerve
disagreeably alive and brings to the surface all the unpleasant little
traits that in cooler weather one can keep hidden.

"Old General Humidity hasn't shirked his job a minute to-day," Bob
Strahan told Miss Carter as they left the car and walked up the block
to the Washington together.

In front of them sauntered a boy with a dog at his heels.  The boy was
a sturdy young fellow of perhaps fourteen, very shabby as to clothes
but very dauntless as to manner.  The dog was a fox terrier with one
black spot over his left eye like a patch.  Bob Strahan whistled and
snapped his fingers at him.

"I've always meant to have a fox terrier some day," he told Miss
Carter.  "They're so intelligent."

But this particular fox terrier, while he wagged his tail and looked
around to see who whistled, kept close to the heels of the boy who
looked carefully at the houses as if in search of one.  When he came to
the Washington he stood and stared up at the long brick wall with its
many windows peering so curiously down at him, much as Mary Rose had
stared less than a month before.

"Well, young man," Bob Strahan said pleasantly, "is there anyone here
you wish to see?"

"Gee," exclaimed the boy with a fervor that seemed to come from his
dusty heels, "I hadn't any idea it would be such a big place!"

"It isn't a cottage," agreed Bob Strahan amiably, "nor yet a bungalow.
But a roof has to be some size to cover a couple of dozen families.
What particular family are you interested in, may I ask?"  He stooped
to pat the black-eyed fox terrier as it sniffed his ankles.  "Some
dog!" he told the boy.

Down the street came Mary Rose and Miss Thorley.  Mary Rose had been to
the bakery for rolls for supper and had met Miss Thorley on the corner.
The little group by the steps of the Washington could hear her voice
before they saw her and the boy swung around and listened.

"I used to think that if I wasn't a human being, made in the image of
God, I'd like to be the milkman's horse in Mifflin," he heard Mary Rose
say and he chuckled.

"Why, Mary Rose?" laughed Miss Thorley.

"Because it was so friendly to go from house to house every morning
with milk for the babies and cream for the coffee.  Everyone in Mifflin
was a friend to old Whiteface.  Why--why!" she broke her story short to
stand still and stare at the boy and the dog, who were both staring at
her.  The boy's face was one broad grin and the dog's tail was wagging
frantically.  "Why, Solomon Crocker!  It's never you!  Oh, Solomon!" as
he darted to her.  "I've missed you more than tongue could tell.  It
seems a hundred thousand years since we were together.  Jimmie Bronson,
however did you know that I'd made arrangements for Solomon to come to
Waloo?"

"I didn't know but I wanted to leave Mifflin and I couldn't let old Sol
stay alone.  You know Aunt Nora died just after you left and there
wasn't any home for me any more.  I wanted to see the world so I
thought I'd bring the pup and if you didn't want him I'd be glad to
keep him.  He's a dandy dog and he's valuable.  He's helped to more
than pay our way."  He jingled the contents of his pocket so that they
could hear how Solomon had helped.

"How did he do that, Jimmie?  I'm sorry about your Aunt Nora but now
you have one more friend in Heaven and you've lots left on earth.  He's
got heaps of friends right here, hasn't he?"  She looked at Bob Strahan
and the two girls for confirmation of her words.  "We're all friends in
Waloo.  But how did Solomon help you to earn your way?"

Jimmie laughed sheepishly.  "I've taught him a lot of new tricks.  He's
a smart dog and learned like lightning.  Folks were glad to see him
perform.  I never asked for pay but they always gave me something.  I
could have sold him half a dozen times for big money but he's your dog,
Mary Rose, so I brought him right along."

"Show us his new tricks," begged Mary Rose.  "Show them to us this
minute."

So Miss Thorley and Miss Carter, with Mary Rose between them, and Bob
Strahan sat down on the broad front steps and watched Jimmie Bronson
put Solomon through his repertoire.  Mrs. Schuneman and Lottie joined
them and from their windows Mrs. Bracken and Mrs. Willoughby watched
the performance.  Solomon really was a clever dog and Jimmie had been
an excellent teacher so that the entertainment was very creditable.
They were all so interested in it that they never saw an addition to
their number until a harsh strident voice sounded beside them.  It made
Mary Rose jump and Mrs. Bracken and Mrs. Willoughby suddenly left their
windows.

"Mein lieber Gott!"  Mrs. Schuneman rose involuntarily and heavily to
her feet.  "It's Mr. Wells!"

"What's this?  What's this?"  Lightning flashed from Mr. Wells' eyes
and thunder rumbled in his voice.  No wonder everyone was startled.
"Dogs aren't allowed here.  Where's Donovan?  He shouldn't allow such a
nuisance.  Run along, boy, and take your dog with you.  You aren't
allowed here!"

"It isn't his dog."  Mary Rose ran in front of him.  "It's my dog and
he's come all the way from Mifflin.  I wish you'd been here earlier so
you could see how smart he is," timidly.  "He knows such a lot of funny
tricks.  Jimmie, will you have him do that one--"

"Your dog!" interrupted Mr. Wells, with a snort, and his fiery eyes
seemed to bore a hole right through Mary Rose, who was trying
desperately to remember that she had the right kind of eye and could
see nothing but good in the cross old man in front of her.  "You know
very well that dogs are not allowed in this house.  Take him away, boy,
and don't let me see either of you again."

"Oh!"  Mary Rose's heart was full of indignation.  So were her eyes.
She was too hurt to be afraid.  "Aren't you ashamed of yourself, a
great big man like you to talk that way to a poor little dog who has
come all the way from Mifflin expecting to find friends here?  He's my
dog and--"

But Mr. Wells would not let her finish.  "You can't keep him here," he
snarled.  He was furious at being spoken to in such a fashion by a
janitor's child and before a group of young people who did their best
to look serious.  "You haven't any business here yourself.  Children
and dogs are forbidden in this building."

Mrs. Donovan had come to the basement window just in time to hear this
angry outburst and she called hastily: "Mary Rose!  Mary Rose!"

Mary Rose never heard her.  "Why are you always picking at me?" she
demanded of Mr. Wells.  "I'm only a little girl and you're a big man
but never once since I came to Waloo have you looked as if you wanted
to be friends with me.  I don't mean to be impudent but you--you do
make it very hard for me to like you."  Her lip quivered and she turned
quickly and hid her face against Miss Thorley's white skirt.

Miss Thorley's arm went around her and a thrill of emotion rarely
intense ran over the older girl.  When she spoke her voice was strange
even to herself:

"Really, Mr. Wells, this is all very unnecessary.  You have not been
annoyed by Mary Rose or her pets.  I think you can trust to her and to
the Donovans--"

"Oh, you can!"  Mary Rose's face came out again and she was so eager to
assure him that he could that she forgot how rude it is to interrupt.
"You shan't ever see Solomon unless you look out of one of the windows
in the white-faced wall.  He's going to live with Mr. Jerry.  I've made
all the arrangements.  I never meant you to be bothered with him.  But
I do wish you'd like him.  He's a very friendly dog," wistfully.  "He'd
like you to like him."

Mr. Wells looked at the friendly dog who wanted to be liked, and at
Mary Rose, before his eyes swept the older group.  There was not the
faintest trace of a smile on the faces of Miss Thorley and Miss Carter,
but there was more than a trace on the countenance of Bob Strahan.

"I don't like dogs!" the grin made him say with a snap.  "I won't have
one here!"  And he went up the steps and slammed the screen door behind
him.

"Mercy, mercy!" feebly murmured Mr. Strahan.  "You might think he owned
the whole works.  My rent comes due every month, just as his does."

At her window Aunt Kate wrung her hands and thought sadly how
comfortable they were in the basement of the Washington.  Mr. Wells
would never rest now until he had Larry discharged.  She knew he
wouldn't.  He would never overlook the fact that Mary Rose had talked
back to him on the very steps of the Washington.  She could not blame
Mary Rose, the child had had provocation enough, goodness knows, but
she wished--she wished--Oh, how fervently she wished that Mr. Wells had
never been born!

Mary Rose looked sadly after the retreating figure which looked as
friendly and unbending as a poker.

"He won't ever forget I called him a crosspatch," she said sadly and
she blushed.

"What!"  There was an astonished chorus.  How had she dared?  It did
not sound like Mary Rose.

"I did!" the color in her cheeks deepened painfully.  "I never meant to
but the words were in my mind and so they slipped out of my mouth.
Come on, Jimmie, we'll take Solomon over to Mr. Jerry's.  He'll be glad
to see him.  He's a human being."

"I think I'll go, too," suggested Bob Strahan who scented a story.
"Have you seen George Washington, the self-supporting cat?" he asked
Miss Thorley and Miss Carter.

"All of you come," begged Mary Rose, glowing happily again.  "Mr.
Jerry'd be glad to have you and there's plenty of room in the back
yard.  I'd like to have you see my cat.  Isn't it wonderful that George
Washington and Solomon are self-supporting?  That's being independent,
isn't it, Miss Thorley?  Will you come?" she caught her hand and drew
her to her feet.

Miss Thorley hesitated.  If George Washington had been boarding with
anyone but Jerry Longworthy she would have gone at once but Jerry
Longworthy was very apt to forget that she preferred work to love.  If
she went to his back yard he would be sure to think that her coming was
an inch and proceed to make an ell out of it.  It would be far wiser to
stay away.  So she shook her head.  "Not now, Mary Rose," she said
gently.  "Some other time."

After a quick glance at her face Mary Rose did not tease but went off
with the others.  They found Mr. Jerry in the back yard.  He looked
beyond them as if he found the party too small but as no one followed
to complete it he gave his attention to Solomon and pronounced him
something of a dog.  When Jimmie had put him through his tricks again
Mr. Jerry gravely shook hands with both boy and dog.

"You've been a fine teacher," he said to Jimmie.  "I congratulate you."

Jimmie's face was as scarlet as the poppies in Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary's
garden.  "Oh, go on!" he murmured in delighted embarrassment.

"Just think, they walked all the way from Mifflin!" exclaimed Mary Rose
in a voice of awe.  "It took an automobile and a train and a taxicab to
bring me."

"Well, I didn't have money for an auto nor a train nor a taxi," grinned
Jimmie, "so Sol and I walked.  Not all the way.  Folks gave us a lift
now and then."

"Of course they did.  You'd be sure to find friends," Mary Rose told
him jubilantly.  "That's the beautiful part of traveling.  You find
friends everywhere."

"Sure!"  Jimmie winked at Mr. Jerry and Bob Strahan.  "I found one
friend so glad to see me that he had me arrested."

"Why, Jimmie Bronson!"  Mary Rose's eyes were as large as the largest
kind of saucers.  "What for?  Was Solomon arrested, too?"  She looked
reprovingly at her dog.

Jimmie chuckled.  "I told you I had more than one chance to sell the
brute," with a loving kick at Solomon.  "And one man was so mad when I
told him 'nothing doing' that he had me arrested.  Said I had stolen
the dog from him.  You see there's some class to old Sol but there
isn't much to me.  The judge didn't know which of us was lying until I
told him that Sol was a trick dog and would the man who was trying to
put one over on me run through his tricks to show they had worked
together.  The cuss turned green and stammered that he wasn't no animal
tamer.  The judge gave me a chance and we had a great performance in
the courtroom.  When it was over the judge said he guessed if I'd had
Solomon long enough to teach him so much the man, if he was the owner,
should have found him before.  He fined the other chap a greenback and
gave it to me.  We had beefsteak and potatoes for supper instead of
going to jail, didn't we, old sport?"

"Good for you!"  Mr. Jerry gave him a comradely slap on the shoulder.

Bob Strahan nodded significantly to Miss Carter.  "Didn't I say I'd get
a story out of this?" he whispered.

"What are you going to do now, Jimmie?" asked Mary Rose.  "You aren't
going back to Mifflin?"

No, Jimmie wasn't going back to Mifflin.  He thought, rather vaguely,
he'd stay in Waloo and see the world.  There must be something there
for a boy to do if he were strong and willing.

"Oh, there is!  Isn't there?"  Mary Rose looked appealingly from Mr.
Jerry to Bob Strahan.

"Sure, there is," Mr. Jerry told her heartily.  He asked for further
particulars.  Just what would Jimmie like to do?  Had he any plans?

Jimmie hadn't any plans just at present beyond food and shelter but in
ten years or so he hoped to be an electrician.  Of course, that
couldn't be until he was a man.  In the meantime he'd take anything and
if he could get a job that would let him go to school he'd be about the
happiest kid in the world.

"You can get that kind of job," Bob Strahan told him easily.  "I'll
write a little story about your trip and your arrest for the _Gazette_
and I'll bet you'll have a lot of jobs offered you."

"And until you do you can stay here.  There's a little room up there,"
Mr. Jerry nodded toward his attic, "that would just about fit a boy of
your size.  Do you know anything about autos?  Have you ever met a lawn
mower?  I guess I can find work for you until you get a regular job."

Every freckle on Jimmie's freckled face glowed gratefully.  Mary Rose
jumped up and down.

"Mr. Jerry!" she began in a choked voice.  She ran to him and hid her
face against his hand.  "First you took my cat," she gasped chokingly,
"and then you took my dog and now my friend from Mifflin.  I--I don't
believe a friendlier man ever lived!"

"Mary Rose!"  It was Aunt Kate's voice from the back door of the
Washington.  "Bring your friend in to supper."  Aunt Kate knew that,
under the circumstances, she had no business to ask a boy into the
house but she felt desperately that now it did not matter what she did
and it would please Mary Rose.

"Well, Mary Rose," Bob Strahan pulled her hair as they trooped back to
the Washington, leaving Solomon jumping frantically at Mr. Jerry's
snapping fingers, "are you happy now?"

Mary Rose's face clouded.  "Half of me's happy and half of me isn't,"
she confessed in a low voice.  "It makes me mad not to be friends with
everybody and I can't honestly feel that Mr. Wells and I are friends."



CHAPTER XII

Mr. Bracken found one morning, when he had reached his office, that he
had forgotten some important papers.  He went home at noon to get them.
He let himself into the apartment and walked directly into the
living-room.  He stopped with an exclamation of surprise for on the
broad davenport was a little girl fast asleep.  One of her arms was
thrown protectingly about a brass cage in which a bird swung lazily.

"Well, upon my word!" muttered Mr. Bracken.  He looked about to be sure
he was in the right apartment.  He had been away from home and had not
met Mary Rose.

The words, low as they were uttered, reached Mary Rose's ear and she
opened her eyes.  When she saw a tall man staring somewhat frowningly
at her she sat up suddenly.

"I--I hope you're Mr. Bracken, Mrs. Bracken's husband?" she said.
There was a tremble in her voice as she slipped from the davenport and
bobbed a curtsy.  There was a shake in her knees, also.  Suppose this
strange man should be a burglar?  The thought was enough to make the
voice and knees of any little girl tremble and shake.  But the strange
man nodded curtly and Mary Rose laughed tremulously.  "I thought
perhaps you were a burglar," she confessed at once.  "I never knew a
real burglar but I see now you don't look a bit like one.  If I hadn't
been so sleepy I'd have seen it at once for I've the right kind of an
eye, the kind that can see the good in people.  I think you have, too,
because your eyes are just the same color my daddy's were and he had
the right kind.  Gracious!  I should just think he had!"

"Never mind about eyes," Mr. Bracken said impatiently.  "What are you
doing here?"

"I'll tell you," she blushed.  "I came up to wash the dishes, as I do
every morning for Mrs. Bracken, and I left the key on the outside and
the wind slammed the door shut.  I couldn't open it.  I thought I'd
have to wait until Mrs. Bracken came home to let me out.  I didn't dare
make a noise for fear I'd disturb Mr. Wells.  I must have gone to sleep
for I never heard you come in.  I live in the cellar with my Aunt Kate
and Uncle Larry.  At first I felt like a green cucumber pickle because
in Mifflin, where I used to live, there wasn't anything in our cellar
but a swinging shelf for pickles and jellies and a person couldn't ever
feel like a glass of plum jelly, could they?  So I felt like a cucumber
pickle but now I don't mind it at all.  I love to live in the cellar.
There's everything in getting used to things, isn't there?  I like it
here now pretty well for I've lots of friends.  Mrs. Schuneman and
Germania and Mrs. Johnson, the grandma one.  We go to the park every
day and feed her pet squirrel.  The Lord keeps it there because she
can't have any pets but canary birds in houses like this.  There's a
law against it, Uncle Larry said.  And there's Miss Thorley, the
enchanted princess, who's painting my picture for Mr. Bingham
Henderson's jam to tell people how good it is.  She gave me some once,
apricot.  We only had strawberry and raspberry and plum and grape and
apple butter in Mifflin.  I used to stir the apple butter for Lena.
You have to stir it all the time or it burns.  It makes your arm awful
tired but it's good for the muscle.  Feel mine!"  She clenched her
small arm and held it out so that Mr. Bracken could feel her muscles.

He murmured: "I'll be darned!" in a dazed sort of a way as he felt her
muscle, and Mary Rose went on sociably.

"And there's Mrs. Bracken.  She said I washed her dishes better than a
full-sized girl.  And now there's you.  Have you had any lunch?" she
demanded suddenly.  "Shall I get you some?" she wanted to know when he
had admitted that he hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.  "Mrs.
Bracken wouldn't like it if I let you go away hungry.  It won't take a
minute.  You just keep an eye on Jenny Lind."  And she put Jenny Lind
on the table at his elbow before she flew to the kitchen.

Mr. Bracken stood and stared at Jenny Lind and then at the door through
which Mary Rose had disappeared.  "Well, I'll be darned!" he said
again.  He went to his desk and found his important papers.  He did not
intend to stay for lunch but when Mary Rose flew back to demand
hurriedly whether he liked his eggs fried or boiled he told her boiled.

A postponed meeting brought Mrs. Bracken home that day several hours
before she had planned.  She stopped on the threshold in astonishment
when she heard voices and laughter in the rear of her apartment.  She
hurried back with pursed lips and frowning face for both laugh and
voice had sounded young.  If Mary Rose were making free with her things
she would give Mary Rose a good big piece of her mind and then she
would present Mrs. Donovan with an equal portion.

She went through the dining-room and into the kitchen to find Joseph
Bracken--_Joseph Bracken_--sitting at the kitchen table eating boiled
eggs and drinking tea.  Mary Rose was perched on a chair across from
him and was telling him of Mifflin.  Jenny Lind's cage was between them.

[Illustration: "Mary Rose was perched on a chair across from him and
was telling him of Mifflin."]

"Why--why," gasped Mrs. Bracken.  She could not say another word.  She
forgot all about the big piece of her mind that she was going to give
Mary Rose and stood there staring with bulging eyes.

Mary Rose jumped to the floor.  "Here's Mrs. Bracken!" she cried in
delight.  "Isn't it a pity we didn't know she was coming?  I could just
as well have boiled another egg.  But there's plenty of tea.  It's like
a party, isn't it?  Except that we haven't any birthday candles.  In
Mifflin I always had candles on my birthday cake because daddy said a
birthday should be like a candle, a light to guide you into the new
year.  Shall I boil an egg for you, Mrs. Bracken?"

Mrs. Bracken sat down suddenly in the chair Mary Rose had vacated and
murmured helplessly: "Well, upon my word!"

"That's what I said," smiled Mr. Bracken, which wasn't exactly true
although the words he had used meant the same thing, "when I came home
and found a girl and a bird on the davenport."

"I locked myself in," Mary Rose explained with a shamed face.  "I was
careless and left the key on the outside.  Mr. Bracken should have
scolded me but he didn't.  We've been the best friends and had the
nicest time together and now it's going to be nicer because you're
here."

She beamed on first one and then the other as she bustled about finding
a plate and a knife and fork, making the toast that Mrs. Bracken
thought she would prefer to bread and all the time talking in a
friendly fashion.  She never doubted that what interested her would
interest others.

At first Mrs. Bracken regarded her helplessly, as Mr. Bracken had done,
but gradually the look of irritation disappeared and at last a smile
took its place.  It was strange to share a lunch of boiled eggs and tea
on the kitchen table with Joseph Bracken.  She had not done that since
they were first married and were moving into their first home.  She
hadn't thought of it for years but now it was oddly pleasant to
remember the little details of a time before she had been absorbed by
clubs and he by business.  Neither she nor Mr. Bracken had much to say
but Mary Rose talked enough for three.  She waited on them with a
solicitude that forced them to eat and when they had finished she sent
them into the other room.

"I'll wash up.  It won't take me a minute."

So, because she told them to, Mr. and Mrs. Bracken drifted into the
other room and left her alone with Jenny Lind.  Mr. Bracken did not
take his hat and mutter that he would be back for dinner.  He walked
over to the window and stood looking down the street.  At last he
turned around and looked at his wife who was sitting on the davenport
as if she were tired.

"Elsie," he said abruptly, "what ever became of your niece?"

She looked up in surprise.  "You mean Harriet White?  She's living with
the Norrises in Prairieville."

"Wouldn't you like to have her here?" he asked suddenly.  "It doesn't
seem just right--decent--to let strangers look after your own
relations."

Her eyes opened wider.  He had never seemed to think whether it was
decent or not until now.  "But we can't have her here.  That was the
trouble after her mother died.  Children aren't allowed in the house
and we didn't want to move."

"How old is she?"

"Thirteen or fourteen.  I'm not just sure which."

"A girl of thirteen isn't a child.  Send for her, Elsie, and if anyone
objects, we can move.  But I guess a tenant means something to a
landlord and there won't be any objections.  We need her, Elsie, as
much as she needs us.  We need someone young with us.  That kid," he
nodded toward the kitchen where Mary Rose was lustily singing the many
verses of "Where Have You Been, Billy Boy?" "has made me realize what
we are missing.  Why she fussed around me as if--as if," he colored
slightly, "as if I were her father.  No, it isn't anything new.  I've
been thinking for some time that we aren't getting all we should out of
life.  You give your time and strength to clubs and I give mine to
business and what does it amount to?  What are we working for?
Abstract people aren't the same as your own flesh and blood.  What we
need is something to bring us together and if Hattie White is anything
like that kid she'll keep us good and busy."

Mrs. Bracken slipped across the room and put her hand on his arm.
"I'll be glad to send for her, Joe.  I haven't felt just right to leave
her with the Whites but I thought you didn't want her and I told myself
that my first duty was to you.  I'll write today.  No, I'll go for her,
if you don't mind."

"That's a good girl."  His arm slipped around her waist.

Out in the kitchen Mary Rose brought her song to an abrupt close.  She
thrust her head in the doorway.  "I'm all through.  Didn't I say it
wouldn't take a jiffy?  It's been very pleasant but Aunt Kate'll be
wondering where I am and so will Grandma Johnson.  Good-by."

"Good-by," they chorused.  "Come again," they added, as if they
couldn't help but speak the hospitable words.

"I shall," Mary Rose called back.  "Sure, I'll come again."



CHAPTER XIII

"And Mr. Jerry said that if you weren't so much of an angel you'd be a
splendid artist or if you weren't so much of an artist you'd be a
splendid angel.  It sounds queer the way I say it but I know he meant
it for a compliment."  Mary Rose and Jenny Lind were posing for the jam
poster.  It was almost finished and Mary Rose was sinfully proud of it.

Miss Thorley frowned and refused to say what she thought of Mr. Jerry's
compliment.  Mary Rose frowned, also.

"You don't like Mr. Jerry very much, do you?" she ventured to ask.

"I'm too busy to know whether I do or not."  Miss Thorley half closed
her eyes and looked at Mary Rose in the funny way she did when she was
painting.  "My work takes all of my time.  Chin up, Mary Rose."

"Yes'm."  Mary Rose tilted her chin a little higher.  "You aren't under
any obligation to think of him, of course, but if your cat was boarding
with him and he had borrowed your dog you'd just have to keep him in
your mind and heart.  And he's worth thinking of.  He's a very fine
young man.  Everyone says so.  Jimmie adores him and he hasn't known
him a week.  You've known him lots longer than that, haven't you?"  She
spoke as if she could not understand how Jimmie could be so much more
clever.  It must be on account of the spell that old Independence had
put upon Miss Thorley.  There couldn't be any other reason for not
liking Mr. Jerry.  He was so altogether likeable.  Mary Rose sighed at
life's complications.  "I just love Mr. Jerry myself.  I can't help
it," she went on more slowly.  "I wish you did, too," wistfully.  "It's
much more pleasant when the people you love will love each other.  It
gives you such a comfortable feeling as if you didn't care if Heaven
was so far away.  I do think this world would be almost as wonderful as
Heaven if everyone would love everyone else."

"There is no doubt of that," Miss Thorley absently agreed with her.

"Then will you try and love my friends?" eagerly.  She almost lost her
pose in her eagerness.  "I'll love yours.  Every one!  I will!  I can
because I have a big heart.  Did you know that the more you put into a
heart the more it will hold?  It's the hearts that haven't anyone in
them that are so little and hard.  I think hearts must be like
balloons.  You can blow and blow and blow into balloons and there's
always room for some more breath."

"Unless they break.  Balloons break, Mary Rose, and so do hearts."

Mary Rose looked incredulous.  "Mine never did.  And anyway I'd rather
have my heart break from being too full than get hard because it didn't
have anyone in it.  I'd like to have the very biggest heart in the
whole world!" she cried ambitiously.

"Big enough to hold Mr. Wells?  Did you know he was ill, Mary Rose?
His Jap came up last night and asked Miss Carter not to play on the
piano because Mr. Wells wasn't well and didn't wish to be disturbed."
Miss Thorley's lip curled disdainfully.

"Mr. Wells sick?"  Mary Rose was much concerned.  "What's the matter?"

Miss Thorley shook her head.

"Haven't you been down to ask?"  Mary Rose always had been sent to ask
in Mifflin.

"Gracious, no!  I shouldn't dare.  He'd probably bite my head off."

"He couldn't bite your head off if he was sick.  It doesn't seem real
neighborly, Miss Thorley.  And you are neighbors.  You live right over
his head.  I expect he has dyspepsia and that's the reason he looked
so--" she hesitated over a word, "unfriendly.  Why when Mr. Lewis, he's
the postmaster in Mifflin, had dyspepsia Mrs. Lewis didn't dare say her
soul was her own.  Mr. Lewis couldn't be cross to people when they came
for their mail so he saved it all for Mrs. Lewis.  That doesn't seem
quite fair, does it, for people to be pleasant to outsiders and save
their bad temper for their homes?"

"It isn't fair but I rather think it's human."

Mary Rose shook her head.  "Sometimes I think that human and
disagreeable mean the same thing because people all say the bad things
we do are human.  Where did we learn them, Miss Thorley?  The Lord made
us all good because it wouldn't have paid him to make us bad.  Where do
you suppose Mr. Lewis learned to snap and Mr. Wells to scold and you to
frown?"

Miss Thorley certainly did have a frown.  It ran right across her
pretty forehead when she said: "Bless me! child, how do I know?  That's
enough for one day."  She put the drawing board on the table and
stretched herself luxuriously.  "Try and be on time tomorrow, Mary
Rose, and I think we can finish it."

"Yes'm."  Mary Rose stared at the drawing which was a very wonderful
thing to her.  "Don't you believe Mr. Bingham Henderson 'll be pleased
with it?  It's a beautiful picture of Jenny Lind."

"It's a beautiful picture of you, if I do say it," laughed the artist.

Mary Rose drew closer until she could whisper into Miss Thorley's ear.
"I wish Mr. Jerry could see it."

Miss Thorley rose abruptly and pushed her away.  "He can.  He'll have
lots of opportunity to see it when it is on the back of a magazine.
Run along, now.  Skip!"  She fairly pushed Mary Rose out of the door
before she could say anything more about Mr. Jerry.  Sometimes it
seemed to Mary Rose that Miss Thorley was afraid to hear about Mr.
Jerry.

She went down the stairs slowly and hesitated when she came to Mr.
Wells' door.  She knew she should stop and inquire how he was.  It
would have been a terrible breach of good manners in Mifflin not to ask
after a sick neighbor, but Mr. Wells had not been like any neighbor
Mary Rose had ever known.  Nevertheless he was a neighbor.  She tossed
her head and ventured closer to the door.  There was no answer when she
knocked timidly and she tried again.  The door was slightly ajar and
when her second knock brought no response she ventured to push it open
an inch.  Mr. Wells might be all alone and need someone.  She would
just slip in and see.  If he didn't she could slip out again.

There was a chilly deserted feeling in the hall that made Mary Rose
shiver.  She hurried through softly as if in the presence of something
that oppressed her.  When she reached the door of the living-room she
stopped and looked across into the amazed eyes of Mr. Wells, who was
lying on the broad couch.

"Oh!"  Mary Rose refused to be frightened away by his scowl.  "I'm so
glad you're able to be up.  You are better, aren't you?  I was worried
when Miss Thorley said you were sick and I just stopped to inquire.  In
Mifflin when anyone was sick we always went with chicken broth or cup
custard or a new magazine.  Why, when Lily Thompson had tonsilitis she
had eleven different things sent in one day.  I helped her eat the
eating ones."

"How did you get in?" growled Mr. Wells for all the world like the Big
Bear in the story of Goldilocks.  Mary Rose had to think what a
splendid Big Bear he would make.

"The door was open.  I knocked but no one came.  I was afraid you might
want something.  Has your Japanese gentleman gone to the drug store?
Isn't it lonely for you all by yourself?  I was going to ask Aunt Kate
to make you some beef tea but perhaps you'd rather have Jenny Lind stay
with you.  She's splendid company and I'd be glad to loan her to you."
She crossed the room to put the cage down beside Mr. Wells.  Jenny Lind
began to sing immediately as if to show Mr. Wells what splendid company
she could be.

Mr. Wells raised himself on his elbow and shook a threatening fist at
the canary.

"Take that damn bird away!" he shouted.  His face was red and Mary Rose
was sure she could see flames darting from his eyes.

"Yes, sir!  Yes, sir!"  She snatched Jenny Lind at once.  "I s-suppose
she is too noisy for you yet.  Mrs. Mason didn't like her when she had
the nerves.  But you shouldn't be alone.  It's bad for you.  I'm sure
you need friendly company.  Oh, I know the very thing!"  And before the
astonished and indignant invalid could say a word she had dashed out of
the room.

He could hear her stumble in the hall but he did not hear her exclaim
hurriedly when a door across the way opened: "Oh, Mrs. Rawson, will you
take Jenny Lind for a minute?  I'll be right back for her."  She pushed
the hook of the cage into the hands of the startled Mrs. Rawson and
flew down the stairs.

She was back in an incredibly short time with a small glass globe that
she carried very carefully.  Her face shone as she tiptoed in and
placed it on the table beside the invalid.

"There!" she said proudly.  "There!  The perfect pets for the sickroom.
When you said Jenny Lind was too disturbing I remembered that Mr.
Jerry's Aunt Mary had these two little goldfish.  Wasn't it lucky?  She
was glad to loan them to you and hopes you'll find them pleasant
friends.  They won't be any care at all.  I'll come up every day and
feed them if you don't feel well enough.  I'd like to.  Aren't they
beautiful?  Do you suppose all the fish in Heaven are like that, all
gold and glisteny?  Won't you just love to watch them?  They can't sing
or make any noise to annoy you.  They'll be splendid company."

"God bless my soul!" murmured Mr. Wells helplessly, when he could find
breath to murmur anything.  He stared at her as if he really had never
seen her before.

An exclamation, like the pop of a gun, made them look at the doorway
where Sako was staring at them as if he could not believe his eyes.

"Sako!" shouted Mr. Wells, angrily.  "Why did you leave the door open
when you went out?"

"Wasn't it lucky he did?" asked Mary Rose, standing before him and
rocking on her heels and toes as she often did when she was pleased.
"I might never have come in, if he hadn't.  If there's anything I can
do for you, Mr. Wells, any time, don't you hesitate to ask me.  Just
send the Japanese gentleman right down.  I live in the cellar, I mean
the basement, with Aunt Kate and Uncle Larry and we'll all be only too
glad to do anything to help you get well.  It's horrid to be sick.  You
look better, I think," critically, and indeed he was not at all pale
how.  He had so much color in his face that he was almost purple.  "I
must go now and get Jenny Lind.  I left her with Mrs. Rawson.  I expect
she thought I was crazy," with a giggle as she remembered Mrs. Rawson's
amazed face.

"I'll bet she did!"  Mr. Wells stared after her as if he, too, thought
Mary Rose was crazy.  She turned in the doorway to wave her hand to him
and he watched her out of sight.  Then he looked at the goldfish.  He
had half a mind to tell Sako to throw them out.  What did he want with
a couple of damned goldfish?  The child was a nuisance, an unmitigated
nuisance.  Children always were.  That was why he lived in the
Washington where they were forbidden.  He would have to ask the agents
what they meant by letting the place be overrun with children when
there was a clause in every lease forbidding it.  Mary Rose might be a
friendly little soul, she might mean well, but she was an unmitigated
nuisance.  The Lord only knew what she would do next if she remained in
the building.  And she had dared to talk back to him in front of
people.  No, he would see that the lease was lived up to.  It was his
right.  If he demanded protection against Mary Rose, an impudent
interfering chit, he fumed, the agents would have to protect him.

"Sako!" he called sharply.  "Take these damned goldfish down to the
Donovans.  And tell Donovan to keep his niece at home.  I won't have
her here!"



CHAPTER XIV

Through Bob Strahan, Jimmie obtained a paper route.  Mr. Jerry's Aunt
Mary insisted that was work enough for him at present.

"A growing boy has to have plenty of time to eat and sleep," she said,
"and no one is using that attic bedroom."

"You can earn your board taking care of the lawn and lending a hand
with the car.  The paper route 'll stand you in for clothes and
spending money," suggested Mr. Jerry.  "Might as well take it easy
while you can."

"He's a prince, that's what he is!" Jimmie told Mary Rose somewhat
chokingly, when she came over to see how George Washington and Solomon
and Jimmie were doing.  "I never knew such a man."

"Didn't you?"  Mary Rose was surprised.  "Mr. Jerry is splendid but
there are lots and lots of splendid people in the world, Jimmie
Bronson."

"Oh, are there!" snorted Jimmie.  "Well, I haven't seen so many of
them, and that's straight.  Judging from what I saw and heard that
first day I was in Waloo, you've run across at least one of the other
sort, too."

Mary Rose blushed.  Her inability to make friends with Mr. Wells
annoyed her.  "He's got dyspepsia," she said, as if that were an
excuse.  "To tell you the truth, Jimmie Bronson, when I first came here
I nearly died.  I had an awful time remembering that daddy said when
there were so many people in the world there were friends for
everybody.  The people were so different and it was so funny to have
them live up and down instead of side by side.  At first I thought I'd
never get used to it but I did.  And I have lots of friends here now.
But Waloo isn't Mifflin."  And she sighed because it wasn't.

"Mifflin!" jeered Jimmie.  "Mifflin!  You can be mighty good and glad
it isn't.  I don't know where you got your idea of Mifflin, Mary Rose,
for it's about the deadest one-horse town I ever ran across.  And the
people.  Huh!  A collection of boneheads."

"Why, Jimmie Bronson!" gasped Mary Rose.  "Mifflin's the friendliest
town--"

"Friendly!"  Jimmie elevated his nose at the word.  "Prying,
interfering, gossiping!  That's what it is.  I guess I know.  You're
all wrong, Mary Rose, all wrong.  If you should go back you'd see.
You're nothing but a kid.  You don't know.  But take it from me you've
got entirely the wrong idea of your native town.  If Mifflin was what
you think it was do you imagine Solomon and I would have left?  No,
siree!  We'd have stayed and been part of the happy crowd.  But it
isn't.  Honest!  It's dead and narrow and one-horse and the people are
boneheads."

Mary Rose could not believe it.  She stared at him and her lip quivered.

"Jimmie," she said at last and her voice was very low and shaky, "is
that what you want me to think of Mifflin?  It's always been a
wonderful place to me.  You see I was born there and no other city, no
matter how grand it is, can be my birthplace.  It doesn't seem as if I
could be all wrong about it.  And the people!  Daddy always said
people's hearts were friendly and in Mifflin their faces were friendly,
too.  Yes, they were, Jimmie Bronson, when I lived there.  Perhaps they
have changed.  It's a long time since I left."

Jimmie gave a whoop.  "Long time!  It isn't two months.  And it would
take more than sixty days to put that sour look on old Mr. Mallow's
face.  He nearly ate me up alive when I asked for a job after Aunt Nora
died.  No, Mary Rose, you're wrong, all wrong, about Mifflin.  There
isn't any place in this whole world that's like what you think that old
burg is."

"Isn't there, Jimmie?"  Mary Rose was very troubled.  "Is that what I'm
really to believe?"

There was a quiver in her voice that made James Bronson turn and look
at her.  He flushed all over his freckled face, to the very roots of
his red hair.  He even put out his tanned hand and patted Mary Rose's
arm.  "No, Mary Rose," he said slowly.  "I guess you're right.  You're
always looking for friends and so you'll find them.  You keep on being
a silly simp and thinking of Mifflin as the new Jerusalem and perhaps
it'll grow into one."

"It would if everyone thought it would," Mary Rose insisted and the
troubled look slipped away from her face.  "If people feel friendly
they'll find friends."

"And she believes it," Jimmie told Mr. Jerry when they were cleaning
the car together that evening.  "Gosh, aren't girl kids queer!  I
couldn't tell her the truth but I guess I know Mifflin better than she
does."

"I'm glad you didn't tell her the truth, Jim."  Mr. Jerry lighted his
pipe and gave Jimmie the hose.  "She'll learn soon enough."

"Of course she will," agreed Jimmie.  "She's just got to find out that
folks aren't going up and down the streets holding out the glad hand.
That's what I say, Mr. Jerry, if people feel so friendly inside why
don't they show it outside?  Gee whiz!" he stopped to squeeze the water
out of the big sponge.  "Wouldn't it be a great old world if they did,
if folks were what Mary Rose thinks they are?"

"It would.  And as every little bit added to what there is makes a
little bit more you could help the good time along by feeling a bit
more friendly to the world yourself, James," advised Mr. Jerry,
stepping off to look at the car.  "Mary Rose is right when she says
that smiles are just as catching as frowns.  Take it from me that it
never makes a bad thing any worse by thinking that it is better than it
is."

Jimmie Bronson's opinion of Mifflin bothered Mary Rose and she
discussed it with everyone.  It was not until they had all agreed with
her that people and places are what you think they are that she felt
comfortable again.

"I knew I was right all the time," she told Aunt Kate.

"If folks were really what she thinks they are, what a snap we'd have,"
Aunt Kate said to Uncle Larry, after Mary Rose had gone to bed.  "To be
honest I'll have to admit that the atmosphere's a mite pleasanter here
but whether that's because of Mary Rose or because I haven't seen quite
so much of the tenants--I never do in summer--I can't say.  Seems if
she does have the faculty of bringing out the kind side of folks.  If I
hadn't seen it with my own eyes I never would have believed that Mrs.
Rawson would have loaned her machine to Mrs. Matchan or that Mrs.
Matchan would condescend to borrow it.  Land, the rows they've had over
that machine and that piano!  Perhaps there is somethin' in thinkin'
folks are friendly.  What do you say, Larry?"

"What's thinkin' done for old Wells?" asked Uncle Larry.  "He's worse'n
ever.  Take my word for it, Kate, he'll make trouble for us.  You might
as well begin to pack."



CHAPTER XV

Mrs. Donovan looked with admiration at the sheer linen blouse that Miss
Thorley handed her.

"Sure, I'll do it up for you the very best I know how an' seems if you
can't expect a body to do more than that.  If all of us who are in the
world just did our best it would be a different place than it is, now
wouldn't it?  What's ailin' you, Miss Thorley?  Seems if you don't look
so hearty as you did.  Don't you work too hard.  It's what you have in
your heart more'n what you have in your pocketbook that makes
happiness.  A pretty young thing like you hain't no business to be
thinkin' of jam all the time.  I hear you're makin' oodles of money
drawin' pictures for Mr. Bingham Henderson but let me tell you, my
girl, you can't make good red blood no matter how much money you have.
There's only one can do that."

"Who's that, Aunt Kate?"  Mary Rose hungered for the information, as
she leaned against the table.  "Who can make good red blood?"

"God Almighty, honey, an' he's the only one.  Land, I remember Jim
Peaslie took a dozen raw eggs a day, a quart of cream an' beefsteak so
raw it dripped blood but he couldn't make none of those red corpuskles
an' so there wasn't nothin' for him to do but die an' he died.  A body
can't live without plenty of red corpuskles an' by that same token, a
girl has got to have somethin' beside work.  That's gospel true, Miss
Thorley.  My ol' father used to say you robbed the ol' when you took
pleasures from the young an', seems if, that's gospel true, too.  Land,
if I hadn't had good times when I was a girl to remember sometimes I'd
go crazy.  Layin' up pleasant memories is what everyone can do an' it
means as much as money in the bank.  This is pretty lace on your waist,
Miss Thorley.  I dunno as I ever saw just this pattern."

"It's imported," Miss Thorley told her listlessly as she lingered in
the cosy kitchen.  She was pale and her eyes were dull.  She was tired,
she told herself impatiently.  The summer had been hot and she had
worked hard.  It irritated her that the keen eyes of Mrs. Donovan saw
that she was not happy but how could she be happy when she had so many
things to annoy her?  She should be happy, she was independent, she had
work, the two things that had seemed so necessary to happiness but
recently she had been conscious of a desire for something more.  It
made her furious to be restless and discontented and so listless and
colorless that people noticed it.

Mrs. Donovan snorted at the imported lace.  "That's it.  Girls nowadays
think 't fine clothes 'll make 'em happy.  An imported waist costs
more'n one made in Waloo an' it keeps a girl strong enough to work for
the silk stockin's she's got to have," she said with scorn.  "I don't
wonder there's so many bach'lors when I figure how much money it costs
now to dress a girl."

"Is that why men are bachelors?" asked astonished Mary Rose.  "Mr.
Jerry is a bachelor, his Aunt Mary told him so right in front of me.
She doesn't like it in him.  And Mr. Strahan's one and Jimmie Bronson
and Mr. Wells and Mr. Jarvis.  Why, what a lot of bachelors are right
under this very roof!"

"That's just it," laughed Mrs. Donovan.  "'Stead of havin' so many
bach'lor flats in Waloo there oughta be more fam'ly cottages."

"There's Mr. Jerry now."  Mary Rose ran to the window to wave her hand
to her friend as he drove his car up the alley.  Solomon was with him
and he looked quite as well on the front seat as Mr. Jerry had hoped he
would.  "I could have asked him if that was why he was a bachelor if he
hadn't gone away."

Miss Thorley crossed the kitchen and stood beside her.  She saw the
automobile turn the corner and disappear down the cross street.

"Mary Rose," she suddenly put her arm around the small shoulders beside
her.  "Do you know I've never seen George Washington."

"You haven't?"  Mary Rose twisted around and looked up into her face.
"Oh, you must see him.  He's such a wonderful cat.  But I can't bring
him here.  It's against the law, you know.  Would you--Oh, would
you!--come across the alley and see him in his boarding house?  You
know he's only a cat," she explained slowly as if she were afraid that
Miss Thorley might expect to find George Washington something more.
"But he's wonderful just the same.  He earns his own board, every
single drop.  Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary said so."

Miss Thorley and Aunt Kate smiled at each other above Mary Rose's
yellow head.

"I've never seen a self-supporting cat," Miss Thorley laughed.  "I
should love to meet George Washington."  She did not understand why she
would love to meet him now, why she wished to go across to Jerry
Longworthy's back yard, when until that afternoon nothing could have
induced her to go there.

"Come on."  Mary Rose put out an eager hand and Miss Thorley took it in
hers.  They were halfway across the alley when Mary Rose stopped.  "I
forgot," she said, and her face was troubled.  "I promised to let Mr.
Jerry know when you'd come."

"It's too late to tell him now.  We saw him go off in the car."  Miss
Thorley did not explain that that was the reason she was willing to
call on George Washington.  "I shall be very busy after today, Mary
Rose.  I might not be able to come again for several weeks."

"Is that so?"  Mary Rose looked less doubtful.  "Perhaps I can explain
that to Mr. Jerry."  She led the way into Mr. Jerry's spacious yard.
"I expect George Washington's inside," she said when they failed to
find him outside.

"Run in and bring him out," suggested Miss Thorley, sitting down in one
of the wicker chairs that were under the big apple tree that had lived
there ever since Waloo had been some man's farm.

Mary Rose disappeared but before Miss Thorley had looked half over the
yard she was back.  "He's asleep," she said in a loud whisper.  "Do
come in and see him.  He looks perfectly beautiful with a fern at his
head and a bunch of asters at his feet.  Please, come."  She took Miss
Thorley's hand and tried to pull her to her feet.

Miss Thorley did not wish to go into the house.  She had had no
intention of doing more than to slip into the yard for a moment.  Now
that she was there she felt uncomfortably conscious.  But Mr. Jerry was
away, she had seen him go with her own eyes.  It would be interesting
to see his home.  Or perhaps the picture Mary Rose had described, a
sleeping cat with a fern at his head and asters at his feet, was
alluring.  Whichever it was she allowed Mary Rose to lead her in at the
side door, through the dining-room that seemed far too large for only
Mr. Jerry and his Aunt Mary, into the big living-room that had begun
life as a front and back parlor.  There on the wide window seat was the
self-supporting cat, George Washington himself, with a fern spreading
its feathery fronds above his head and a cluster of red asters in a
brass bowl at his tall.  George Washington had calculated the amount of
space between the jardinière and the bowl to a nicety.  There was not
the fraction of an inch to spare.

[Illustration: "There on the wide window seat was the self-supporting
cat."]

"There!"  Mary Rose pointed a proud finger as she stopped before the
window.

"He is a beauty," Miss Thorley was honest enough to say.  Her sense of
color was delighted at the play of sunshine on George Washington's gray
overcoat which had caught a warm glow from the red asters.  "Wake him
up, Mary Rose.  You really can't see a cat asleep any more than you can
a baby."

"Shall I?"  Mary Rose would never in the world have disturbed a
sleeping baby and for the same reason she hesitated before a sleeping
cat.  And while she hesitated Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary came in and their
voices woke George Washington.  He sprang up, artfully eluding bowl and
ferns, and stood in the sunlight stretching himself.  He looked at Mary
Rose and at Miss Thorley and at Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary with his calm
yellow eyes.

"That's a lot better than waking him," Mary Rose clapped her hands.  "I
can't bear to waken anyone for fear of interrupting a dream.
Sometimes," she went on thoughtfully, "I'd give most anything to know
what's inside of George Washington's mind.  He looks so wise.  Isn't he
splendid?" she asked Miss Thorley, who had flushed uncomfortably when
Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary came in and who now was standing rather stiffly
conscious, wishing with all her heart she had never come.  Mary Rose
caught her cat and brought him to Miss Thorley.  "You tell her how
self-supporting he is?" she asked Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary in a voice that
reeked with pride.

"I think I can tell that story better than Aunt Mary."  And lo and
behold, there was Mr. Jerry himself in the doorway, an unusual color in
his brown cheeks, a reproachful look in his eye.

Miss Thorley's face had more color than usual, also, as she bowed
coldly, but Mary Rose flew to take his hand.

"I'm so glad you came back.  We saw you drive away but we had to come
now for Miss Thorley's going to be so awfully busy that she couldn't
come for weeks and weeks."

"Is she?"  Mr. Jerry looked oddly at Miss Thorley, but Miss Thorley
refused to look at him.  "The best laid plans of mice and men," he said
meaningly and paused until Mary Rose squeezed his hand.

"Are you telling her about George Washington?" she whispered.

He laughed and after a moment a faint smile lifted the corners of Miss
Thorley's lips.  Mr. Jerry drew a sigh of relief and sat down.

"That's better," he said.  "No, Mary Rose, I was not just then
referring to George Washington, but I can assure you that he is
untiringly on the job.  He brought a dead mouse to me at six o'clock
this morning.  At six o'clock!" impressively.  "I thought I had the
nightmare when I opened my eyes and saw old George standing there with
a mouse in his mouth.  He's working overtime.  He should take a rest.
He'll injure his health if he attends too strictly to business, Mary
Rose."

"I know."  Mary Rose nodded a wise head.  "Too much work doesn't make
good red blood.  Aunt Kate was just telling us, wasn't she, Miss
Thorley, that all the money you make won't buy good times nor red
blood.  She was telling us that very thing not ten minutes ago."  Mary
Rose was overjoyed to hear Mr. Jerry confirm what Aunt Kate had said.
Now, of course, Miss Thorley would have to believe that it was true.

"Your Aunt Kate is a very wise, wise woman.  It's a pity others can't
see it."  He sighed and looked at Miss Thorley, who stroked George
Washington's gray overcoat and refused to lift her eyes to meet his.

"If they could they'd have old heads on young shoulders, perhaps,"
suggested Mary Rose.  "You wouldn't like that, would you?  Just suppose
Mrs. Schuneman's head was on Miss Thorley's shoulders.  How would you
like that?"

"I shouldn't like it at all.  I shouldn't want any head on Miss
Thorley's shoulders but her very own.  It suits me there--perfectly."
Mr. Jerry eyed Miss Thorley rather critically and screwed his eyes half
shut as Miss Thorley did when she was looking at the model she was
painting, and his voice was as firm as a voice could be.  "Even to have
her as wise as your Aunt Kate I shouldn't want her to have Mrs.
Schuneman's head."

"And just suppose you had Mr. Wells' head and he had yours?" giggled
Mary Rose.

Mr. Jerry tweaked her pink ear.  "Mr. Wells wouldn't keep my head for a
minute.  Perhaps it is just as well to leave heads where they are."

"I used to want to change mine," Mary Rose confided to them soberly.
"You know I've millions of freckles and my hair's as straight as a
string.  Nobody ever thinks I'm pretty like Gladys.  One day Mrs. Evans
told me that pretty is as pretty does and for almost a week I did my
best to do pretty, the very prettiest I knew how.  But no one ever
stopped and said, 'What a beautiful child,' as they do when they see
Gladys.  Gladys is afraid of dogs and she screams when she sees a
mouse.  She's even afraid of her tables.  So I tried to think I had
more real good times by being brave instead of beautiful.  Oh!" she
broke off with a squeal of delight, for Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary brought
in a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of little cakes gay with white and
pink frosting.  "Oh, Miss Thorley! aren't you glad now that you came?"



CHAPTER XVI

Long before school began Mary Rose had established an acquaintance, if
not a friendship, with all the people who lived in the Washington.  Not
only did she know them herself, but she was the means of many of them
knowing others.  Mrs. Schuneman and Mrs. Johnson often went to the park
together now to feed the squirrels which Mary Rose was firmly convinced
the Lord had placed there for those who could not have pets in their
homes.  Mrs. Matchan had promised to play at one of Mrs. Bracken's club
meetings and Mrs. Rawson and her machine were making garments for the
children's ward of the new hospital in which Mrs. Willoughby had become
interested.

Until Mary Rose came neither Miss Adams nor Mrs. Smith knew that the
other was a slave to the crochet hook.  Mary Rose arranged an exchange
of patterns and when a pineapple border proved too complicated to be
worked out alone she brought expert aid and Miss Adams no longer hated
the Washington.  It was Mary Rose who discovered that old Mr. Jarvis
and young Mr. Wilcox were graduates of the same college and that Mr.
Blake's grandfather and Mrs. Bracken's grandmother had once sung in the
same church choir.  Miss Carter and Bob Strahan were often seen
strolling together and more than once they had transported Mary Rose to
the seventh heaven of delight by taking her to a moving picture show.

Mary Rose's friendliness had had an effect with the maids as well as
the mistresses.  When she had found Mrs. Johnson's Hilda crying because
she didn't know anyone in Waloo and was so homesick and lonesome she
didn't think she'd stay, Mary Rose went down and asked Mrs. Schuneman's
Mina if she wouldn't please be a little friendly to a new friend of
hers.

Mina had stared at her with her big china blue eyes and said she
wouldn't do it for anyone else, but since Mary Rose had come Mrs.
Schuneman had let up a little on her everlasting nagging, so she felt
she owed her a favor and she'd go up that very evening.

It was Mary Rose who soothed Ida at Mrs. Rawson's when she took it into
her head that she could not work in the same building with a Japanese.

"You're a Norwegian, aren't you, Ida?  So you're a foreigner just as
Mr. Sako is.  I suppose he thinks Norwegians are just as strange as you
think Japanese.  Countries are like families, I guess; you think your
own is the best in the world.  But I don't believe that God was so good
to the Norwegians that he made them the best.  He had to divide the
good things just as I do when I have any candy.  I give some to Aunt
Kate and some to Uncle Larry and once I gave a chocolate to you, Ida.
I wish you'd try and be polite to Mr. Sako.  You don't need to be
intimate friends if you don't want to.  Just think what a splendid
chance you have to learn about Japan."

Ida had stared at her as Lena had done, but she told Mrs. Rawson that
she'd changed her mind and she wouldn't leave on account of any Jap,
she wouldn't be driven away by any yellow man.  She guessed that
Norwegians were as good as Japanese any day.

There were many things that puzzled Mary Rose but almost as many that
pleased her.

"I've enjoyed living in Waloo," she told Mr. Jerry one evening as they
sat under the apple tree.  "I didn't think I would at first.  I thought
I'd die to have to live in a place where there couldn't be any children
nor any pets, but everyone's so friendly I mean--almost every one.  I
do think the Lord did just right when he made people instead of
stopping, as he might have done, with horses and lions and monkeys.
Did you ever think how strange it would be if there wasn't any you nor
any Miss Thorley nor any Mrs. Schuneman nor any Mr. Wells," she spoke
the last name in a whisper, "but just animals and vegetables and birds?
Sometimes I can't understand how the Lord ever did think of making so
many different things.  I suppose it was just because He was the Lord.
That's what Aunt Kate said when I asked her.  But I shall be glad to go
to school, Mr. Jerry, because then I'll know some children.  You know
in Mifflin I played almost all the time with children, Gladys and Mary
Mallow and Lucy Norris and Harry Mann and lots of others, but here I
don't seem to know anyone but grown-ups.  They're very nice grown-ups.
I just love you, Mr. Jerry, and your Aunt Mary and the enchanted
princess!  Do you think you'll ever be able to break the spell of that
wicked witch Independence?" anxiously.  "You know I don't think she's
just happy.  Aunt Kate doesn't either.  She thinks it's red corpuscles
but I really believe it's that Independence.  We must do something, Mr.
Jerry.  And I love Miss Carter and Mr. Strahan and Mrs. Schuneman and
Grandma Johnson and everybody else.  Isn't a heart the biggest thing?
Mine has room for Jenny Lind and George Washington and Solomon and all
the other pets I ever had or ever will have and for all the people that
were made.  It's--it's--" she frowned--"very elastic, isn't it?  You
have an elastic one, too, Mr. Jerry, or you'd never have taken in
George Washington and Solomon and Jimmie Bronson.  You're a bachelor,
aren't you?"

Mr. Jerry looked quite dazed as he attempted to keep up with Mary
Rose's subjects.  He sighed as he acknowledged that he was a bachelor.

"Is it because when you look at a girl you see how much she costs?"
Mary Rose had worried over that.  "Because really Miss Thorley doesn't
cost so much.  She told Aunt Kate she didn't.  She said appearances
were deceitful and the most costly looking girls were often the
cheapest.  Of course, you needn't tell me if you don't want to,"
remembering, alas, too late, that Miss Thorley had told her that one
should not ask personal questions.  She drew a deep sigh.  "I'm so
full, just so plumb full of questions I've got to spill some of them
out once in a while."

"To be sure you have!"  Mr. Jerry was the most understanding person.
"When I was your age I was nothing but a walking question."

"Weren't you?" admiringly.  "And did people answer your questions?
They usually say to me, 'Run along, child, I'm busy' or 'Never mind
that now, you'll know soon enough.'  It's a very, very puzzling world,
isn't it, with so many things you don't understand.  That's another
reason I'm so glad to go to school.  The day after the day after the
day after tomorrow, Mr. Jerry, my Aunt Kate's going to take me.  I've
never been to a city school so I can imagine it's just like a palace
with gold seats for the children and thrones for the teachers who are
all fairy princesses with beautiful golden hair and white satin
dresses."

"Mary Rose!  Oh, Mary Rose!"  Mr. Jerry regarded her sadly.  "You are a
living proof that anticipation is greater than any old participation.
I'm only doing you a kindness when I tell you that there is not a
golden seat for any child in the Lincoln School.  There isn't even one
throne.  And if you don't have an old witch for a teacher instead of a
golden-haired fairy I'm a goat.  I tell you this for your own good,
Mary Rose, believe me."

Mary Rose shook her head until her hair refused to stay in the ribbon
Aunt Kate had tied on it.  "All the same I'm going to believe in the
golden seats.  They are pleasant things to think of."

It was the next day that she was in the hall with Jenny Lind.  They had
been calling on Mrs. Schuneman and Germania and had had a pleasant
time.  Mary Rose had eaten two pieces of coffee cake and drunk a glass
of ginger ale and Jenny Lind had had a crumb of coffee cake which
seemed to be all she cared for.

Mrs. Schuneman had told Mary Rose a great secret, that Lottie was going
to be married to the brother of one of her bridge-playing friends and
that Mary Rose might come to the wedding.  Mary Rose was so excited she
could scarcely speak.  She had never been to a wedding in all of her
"going on fourteen" years.

"I've been to three funerals and a revival meeting--" ecstasy made her
voice tremble--"but I've never been to a wedding.  Gladys went to one
and she said it was grand.  Her grandmother cried all the time and her
grandfather blew his nose six times.  Gladys counted.  Oh, Mrs.
Schuneman, will Miss Lottie really invite me?  It would be something,"
and she clasped her hands as she stood in front of Mrs. Schuneman, "for
me to remember all of my life!"

"Sure, she'll invite you, you and Jenny Lind.  She can hang in the
window with Germania and sing for the bride."

Mary Rose threw herself against Mrs. Schuneman.  "I wouldn't exchange
you for Cinderella's godmother!" she half sobbed.  "I'd rather go to a
wedding than have a dozen pumpkin coaches.  Jenny Lind and I can't tell
you how obliged we are."

She was in a whirl of excitement as she shut the door.  She heard her
name called softly from above and looking up she saw Miss Carter's face
smiling down at her from the third floor.

"Oh, Mary Rose, honey," came the soft whisper.  "There's a package
there for me, parcel post.  You know they don't come up.  Will you
bring it to me?  I'm not dressed to go down.  Do, there's a love!"

Mary Rose ran into the vestibule and found a parcel addressed to Miss
Blanche Carter.  It was rather a large package and Mary Rose's arms
were not so long as they would be some day.  She looked dubiously from
the package to Jenny Lind.

"You'll just have to stay by yourself a minute, Jenny Lind.  It's lucky
for you that the law doesn't let the cats come into this house."

She put the cage on the flat top of the newel post and, taking Miss
Carter's package in her arms, she went up as fast as she could.  She
had to tell Miss Carter of Lottie Schuneman's wedding and of the
invitation that she and Jenny Lind were to receive, and Miss Carter had
to open the parcel and show the contents to Mary Rose, so that it was
several minutes instead of one before Mary Rose ran downstairs.

The newel post was empty.  There was no bird cage with a yellow canary,
on it.  Mary Rose couldn't believe there wasn't and looked again.  She
was frightened.

"Jenny Lind!" she called.  "Jenny Lind!" Perhaps someone had taken the
cage to tease her.  Perhaps there had been a new law and birds were not
allowed in the house.  Perhaps a cat had slipped in regardless of the
fact that cats were forbidden.  But no cat could have carried the cage
out of the front door.  Mary Rose wrung her hands in horror and ran to
knock at Mrs. Schuneman's door.  Mrs. Schuneman cried out in dismay.

"Why didn't you leave her with me?"

"I didn't want to bother you when you'd been so kind," faltered Mary
Rose.  "Where can she be?  Perhaps Uncle Larry took her home."

But neither Uncle Larry nor Aunt Kate had taken Jenny Lind to the
basement flat.  Aunt Kate shook her head when Mary Rose told what had
happened and followed her up to look at the empty newel post.  She
could only suggest feebly that someone must have taken the bird.  "For
a joke," she added when she saw Mary Rose's frightened face.

"A nice kind of a joke to frighten a child to death," grunted Mrs.
Schuneman.  "Here, Mary Rose, we'll knock on every door and ask.  I'll
go with you and if anyone is playing a joke they'll stop when they see
me."

She looked quite grim enough to frighten any joker as they went from
door to door.  But no one had seen Jenny Lind.  No one had heard of
her.  Mrs. Johnson and Grandma Johnson and Mrs. Rawson and Mrs.
Willoughby came out on the second-floor landing and said what a shame
it was, and on the third floor Mrs. Matchan and Miss Adams and Miss
Proctor and Miss Carter talked together and tried to comfort Mary Rose.

But all the talking on all three floors did not bring Jenny Lind back.
Mary Rose pressed her face close to Aunt Kate and tried not to cry and
to believe the conscience-stricken Miss Carter when she said that Jenny
Lind was all right, they'd find her before Mary Rose could say Jack
Robinson.

"She's all I had here of my very own," hiccoughed Mary Rose; "I had to
board out my cat and loan my dog.  I've had her for years and years.
It doesn't seem just fair for anyone to take her from me."

"You can have Germania," promised Mrs. Schuneman, to the surprise of
all who heard her.  "I'll be busy with the wedding and won't have time
to take care of her," she added kindly so that Mary Rose would think it
was a favor to take her bird.

"But Germania's yours and Jenny Lind was--was mine.  They can't ever be
the same, though I'm much obliged, Mrs. Schuneman.  Oh, where can she
be, Aunt Kate?  Where can she be?"

"Yes, where can she be?" repeated Grandma Johnson helplessly.

"We'll advertise," promised Bob Strahan, who had come in and heard the
sad story of Jenny Lind's disappearance.  "Just you keep a stiff upper
lip, Mary Rose.  We'll find your bird."

They were all talking at once and advising Mary Rose to keep her upper
lip stiff when Mr. Wells slammed the door behind him.  He stopped when
he saw the group around the newel post.

"What's the matter?" he scowled, and his voice was like the bark of a
dog to Mrs. Donovan's nervous ear.  "What's the matter?"

It was Mrs. Schuneman who told him.  She had never dared to speak to
him before.  He looked oddly from one to the other and last of all at
Mary Rose whose upper lip just wouldn't stay stiff.

"It is only what you should expect," he said, as he went on up the
stairs.  "Pets are not allowed in this building."

"I wish grouches weren't," muttered Bob Strahan to Miss Carter, who was
almost as tearful as Mary Rose.

"Brute!" she answered.  "If he had been here I should think he had
something to do with Jenny Lind's disappearance."

"That Jap of his was here," suggested Bob Strahan, but no one paid any
attention to him then.

"Come down with me, dearie," whispered Aunt Kate, whose ruddy cheeks
had lost their color under the cold stare of Mr. Wells.  "We mustn't
make any disturbance here.  Come down an' tell Uncle Larry.  P'rhaps he
can help us."

"It's not--not knowing where she is or what's happened to her," Mary
Rose gulped.  "If she was well and comfortable I'd--I'd try to be
resigned, but when I don't know, Aunt Kate!  When I don't know!"

"Nothing has happened to her," Bob Strahan said promptly.  "No one
would hurt Jenny Lind.  She is a valuable bird.  I expect she was
stolen and we'll find her at a bird store.  The thief would be sure to
sell her right away, before he was caught.  I'll look up the bird
shops."

"Do!" begged Miss Carter, who wished from the very bottom of her heart
that she had never asked Mary Rose to bring up her parcel post package.
"I have half a mind to go with you."

"Be generous and have a whole mind.  Poor little kid," he looked after
Mary Rose as Aunt Kate half carried her down.  "It's a thundering
shame.  Lord!  I'm almost ready to think old grouch Wells did have a
hand in this.  Did you see his face?  He's had it in for Mary Rose ever
since she came."

Aunt Kate sat down in the big rocker and drew Mary Rose close to her
heart.  "Don't you fret yourself, Mary Rose," she said with her lips
against Mary Rose's tear-stained face.  "We'll find Jenny Lind.  Sure,
we'll find her.  Just you pretend she's gone for a visit.  You've
loaned her to 'most everyone in the buildin', just you pretend she's
loaned now."

"It's easy enough to pretend when you don't have to, Aunt Kate, but it
isn't so easy when you know the truth," sobbed Mary Rose.

When Uncle Larry heard what had happened he shut his jaws with a click
and a stern look came into his mild blue eyes.

"Of course someone took her," he said, patting Mary Rose's shoulder
with a comforting hand.  "But don't you worry, Mary Rose.  A janitor
can go into any flat in this building, so if someone is hiding her for
fun or meanness I'll find out.  An' if it's anyone outside, well, what
are the police for if not to help folks?  I'll just speak to Officer
Murphy to be on the safe side."

He seemed so helpful and confident that Mary Rose stopped crying and
tried to feel confident, also.

"Perhaps someone in the house did take her for company, but I think it
would have been more polite if they'd said something to me," she
murmured.

"It's more likely that one of the old cranks thought the bird was a
nuisance and wrung its neck," frowned Uncle Larry when he spoke to Aunt
Kate alone.  He did not seem half so confident as when he had spoken to
Mary Rose.  "There are folks not so many miles away who'd not stop to
think whether they broke a kid's heart or not so long as they had their
way.  I declare, Kate, I'm 'most sorry you didn't leave her in Mifflin.
From all she says folks were kind to her there."

"Well, I'm not sorry!"  Aunt Kate's voice was emphatic.  "It breaks my
heart to have her hurt, but we'll just have to keep remindin' her of
what she has left, although it seems if it was little enough.  First
her mother an' then her father, her cat put out to board an' her dog
the same as given away, an' now her bird's stolen.  You might almost
think that Providence was pickin' on the little thing."



CHAPTER XVII

Jerry Longworthy went up the steps of the Washington and eyed the long
row of mail boxes that ran down two sides of the vestibule, until he
came to one whose card read, "Miss Elizabeth Thorley, Miss Blanche
Carter."  He touched the bell beneath.

"Is Miss Thorley in?  This is Jerry Longworthy.  I want to speak to you
about Mary Rose."

"Oh, do come up!"  The voice was very eager and hospitable as it came
swiftly down the tube, and Mr. Jerry obeyed it almost as swiftly.

Miss Thorley met him in the hall on the third floor.  She wore a little
lingerie frock of white voile, tucked and inset with lace and girdled
with pink satin.  It was collarless and her hair was done high on her
head so that little locks escaped from the pins and rested on her white
neck.  She looked about eighteen as she greeted Mr. Jerry.

He held her hand much longer than she thought was necessary and she
flushed as she drew it from him.  He looked around the big pleasant
room as if he were glad to be in it.

"It's a long time since I was here," he said in a low voice, not as if
he meant to say it but as if he had to.

It seemed long to her now, too, and when she answered, it was as Mr.
Jerry had spoken, as if the words came of their own will.

"It is a long time."  If Aunt Kate had seen her then she would not have
worried over any lack of red "corpuskles."  A goodly number of them
slipped into Miss Thorley's face and dyed it pinker than her girdle.

A flame was lighted in Mr. Jerry's eyes and he stepped quickly forward.
She shrank back behind the high morris chair and he stopped suddenly.

"Long enough to prove to you that love is the biggest thing in the
world?" he asked gently, but there was a tremble in his voice that
thrilled her down to her very heels.  "Oh, my dear, has it?  Work and
independence are all well enough but they can't take the place of
love."  His eyes watched her hungrily, but as the color left her cheeks
as quickly as it had come and she shook her head, he went on more
slowly and there was no longer a wistful tremble in his voice to thrill
her to her heels.  "You remember the night when you offered me
friendship instead of love and I scornfully refused the half loaf?"
She nodded almost mechanically, her eyes on her fingers as they pleated
a fold of her frock.  "Well, I've changed my mind.  Mary Rose has shown
me that friends may have a big place in one's life and if you can't
give me anything more I'm going to be satisfied with your friendship.
May I have that?"  He held out his hand.

"Oh!"  It was a startled little gasp and it was a startled little
glance that she gave him.  "Is--is that what you came for?"  If his
ears had been sharper he would have caught a tiny note of
disappointment in the question as if she had expected him to ask for
more.

"It isn't what I came for," he acknowledged honestly.  "But I wanted to
tell you so you wouldn't keep on avoiding me as if I had the plague.
The other afternoon you wouldn't have come over if you had thought I
would be back?"

A red banner in each cheek convicted her.

"We're neighbors and friends of Mary Rose," he went on slowly, "so
we'll doubtless meet more or less and I'd like to feel that you trust
me, that we are friends.  But, honestly, I came tonight to talk of Mary
Rose."

She would be glad to talk of Mary Rose, glad to talk of anyone but
herself, and she left the morris chair that had proved such a safe
shelter and took a gaily cushioned wicker one on the other side of the
room.

"Isn't it a shame?" she asked a bit breathlessly.  "I can't imagine how
anyone who has seen that ducky child with her birdcage could have had
the heart to steal her canary."

"Surely you don't think anyone who knew her took Jenny Lind?"  He was
astonished.

"Everyone says that Mr. Wells has acted very oddly.  And Mary Rose told
me herself that he swore at Jenny Lind.  He's as hard as nails, you can
see it in his face.  I've heard that he has complained to Brown and
Lawson that the leases are not lived up to and that there is a child in
the house.  When you put two and two together you can't make much but
four out of the result."

"The old murderer!" scowled Mr. Jerry.  "If that's true I'd like--I'd
like----"

"So would I!" Miss Thorley agreed with him heartily.

"Jim said something of the sort, but I told him he was crazy.  He said
he was going up the fire escape and see if he couldn't find the bird in
Wells' flat, but I laughed at him.  I didn't know the old man had
complained of Mary Rose.  Of Mary Rose!" he repeated, as if he could
not understand how anyone could complain of Mary Rose.  Mary Rose had
been a joy to him ever since he had looked up from his car and seen her
standing there in the boys' blue serge and with George Washington in
her arms.

Miss Thorley nodded.  "I'd hate to think what this house would be
without her.  She seems to have warmed it from the top to the basement.
Perhaps you won't understand when I say it's as if she had humanized
it.  I'd hate to have it overrun with children!" hastily as she caught
the sudden flash of Mr. Jerry's eyes.  "But Mary Rose--Mary Rose is
different."

"Why don't you tenants get up a petition of some kind?  It wouldn't do
any harm to let the owner know that the rest of you are strong for the
Donovans and Mary Rose."

"No one knows who the owner is.  All business is transacted through the
agents."

"The agents know," wisely.  "It won't do any harm and it might do some
good.  The complaints of one tenant won't weigh as much as the requests
of a dozen, believe me."

Miss Thorley drew her black brows together until they formed a line
across her white forehead.

"I believe you're right," she said after a pause.  "I'll ask Mr.
Strahan to write one and we'll have all the tenants sign it.  But that
won't bring back the canary," forlornly.

"No, it won't bring back the canary," he repeated.  "We'll have to get
another pet for Mary Rose, one that she may have in the flat.  No, not
a canary.  That wouldn't do at all.  But I thought perhaps some
goldfish.  She loves to watch a couple Aunt Mary has.  Once she
borrowed them."

"I know, for company for Mr. Wells when he was ill."

"Goldfish would give her something to think of until school opens.
After that she'll have enough to do to keep her occupied."

Miss Thorley looked at him with surprise.  "Do you know, that's really
very thoughtful.  I've been trying to think what I could do and I
couldn't get beyond another bird.  I had sense enough to see that that
would never do."

"No, another bird wouldn't do.  And tomorrow--I wondered if tomorrow
you and Mary Rose wouldn't go off for the day in the car with Aunt Mary
and me?  We might run down to Blue Heron Lake for dinner.  Mary Rose
loves to motor."

"Why not take your aunt and Mary Rose?  I'm afraid I----"

"Nothing doing!" he interrupted firmly.  "Can't you trust me?"  He
looked her straight in the eyes as he asked.  "I swear I won't say a
word of love.  We're friends now, you know, not--not lovers.  And Mary
Rose adores you.  She'd go through fire and water for you.  Honest, she
wouldn't be contented with me and Aunt Mary, but I know it would be all
right if you were along."

She hesitated and bit her lip before she finally shrugged her shoulders
and said: "Oh, very well.  I'll go for Mary Rose."

"I knew you would.  I knew you'd see the big sister, the humanitarian
philanthropic friendly side of it."  There was more than the hint of a
twinkle in his eyes.  "And one more thing."  Mr. Jerry firmly believed
in striking the iron before it had any chance to cool.  "They have
goldfish for sale over at the drug store on Twenty-eighth Street.
Won't you walk over with me and help pick out a few?  I'd like Mary
Rose to find them when she wakes up in the morning."

She did not hesitate over this request.  Perhaps she realized what a
very persuasive way he had, for she laughed softly.

"I'll go.  I'd do more than that for Mary Rose."

On the way they met Miss Carter and Bob Strahan returning from a
fruitless quest among the bird stores.  But if they had not found Jenny
Lind they had explained the situation to the proprietors of the shops
and each of them had promised on his word of honor to telephone to Mr.
Strahan the very minute that a canary was offered for sale.

The four went together to the drug store and after the globe had been
bought and they had selected the half-dozen fish that were to live in
it, they loitered at a little table over their ice cream.

"Gosh!" suddenly exclaimed Bob Strahan.  "I'm glad I'm not built on the
plans and specifications that produced old Wells.  I shouldn't want the
theft of a kid's canary on my conscience."

"He will insist that Mr. Wells knows all about it," Miss Carter said
mournfully.  She could not help but feel that she was to blame.  If she
hadn't asked Mary Rose to bring up the parcel post package Jenny Lind
might never have disappeared.

"Why?" asked Mr. Jerry curiously.

"Because!"  Miss Carter and Bob Strahan made the rather unsatisfactory
explanation a duet.



CHAPTER XVIII

When Mary Rose opened her eyes the next morning the very first thing
she saw was the glass globe in which flashing sunbeams seemed to dart.

"Why--why!" cried amazed Mary Rose, and she sat bolt upright.

Aunt Kate heard her and came in.  "Do you like them, honey?  Mr. Jerry
and Miss Thorley brought them in last night.  Mr. Jerry said you liked
his aunt's goldfish, so he was sure you'd like some of your own."

"Did he?"  All the gladness slipped from her face and voice as she
remembered the pet she had lost.  "You know, Aunt Kate, last night I
just about decided I'd never have another pet.  I'm--I'm so unlucky
with them."  Her lip quivered.  "I don't seem to be able to keep one
thing that really belongs to me."

"Nonsense!"  Aunt Kate took her in her arms and kissed her.  "You'll
keep me and your Uncle Larry.  You can't lose us.  Aren't they pretty?"
She tapped the glass globe.  "Seems if a body'd never get tired of
lookin' at 'em.  But get dressed, dearie.  Breakfas's most ready an'
Mr. Jerry wants you to go out to Blue Heron Lake in his motor car.  His
aunt an' Miss Thorley are goin' too.  You're to be away all day an'
have your dinner at a big hotel."

Not eighteen hours before Mary Rose would have danced and clapped her
hands at such a delectable prospect, but now she lay back on her pillow
and looked at her aunt.  Two big tears gathered in her eyes.

"I can't go.  Suppose we'd hear something from Jenny Lind."

"As if I wouldn't be here, an' your Uncle Larry.  An' Jimmie Bronson's
goin' to keep an eye on the cat an' dog.  To be sure you're goin',
dearie.  Put your clothes on.  Your breakfas's near ready an' your
uncle's starvin'."  And to avoid any further argument she bustled away.

Mary Rose lay and watched the goldfish for another sixty seconds and
the big tears dropped from her eyes to her pillow.  But even if her
heart was broken she had to admire those flashes of gold in the clear
water.

"They're so--so beautiful."  She was surprised to find herself laughing
when one fish pushed against another.  She had thought she never would
laugh again.  She turned and hid her face.  "No matter how beautiful
they are I shan't ever, forget you, Jenny Lind," she promised.  "Ever!
I'm not the forgetting kind of a person and I'll never stop trying to
find you.  May the good Lord take care of you now and evermore.  Amen."
It wasn't exactly a prayer but it comforted Mary Rose as if it had been.

She slipped out of bed and began to dress soberly and slowly instead of
singing and hurriedly as usual.  When she had combed her hair and
washed her face and hands she went into her closet and came out with
the detested boys' suit of faded blue serge.  Her red lips were pressed
into a firm line as she put it on.

"My soul an' body!" exclaimed astonished Aunt Kate when she came in
with the coffeepot and saw a boyish little figure in the doorway.  Mary
Rose ran to her.  "I was so proud of wearing girls' clothes that maybe
that was the reason Jenny Lind was taken from me," she explained in a
whisper.  "I just hate these, Aunt Kate.  I despise them!  But I'm
going to wear them.  You know proud people are punished, the Bible says
so, and I was as proud--as proud as the proudest.  That's the way I've
thought it out and that's why I put on this hateful suit this morning."

"I think you're wrong, Mary Rose," began Aunt Kate, while Uncle Larry
put down the colored supplement that he had been holding out so
enticingly to look at his niece, who appeared smaller than ever in the
shabby blouse and shrunken knickers.  "You haven't had so much to be
proud of, a few of Ella's old clothes.  But if you feel better in
those, why, wear 'em.  Where's your goldfish?  Don't you want to show
'em to your uncle?  Miss Thorley an' Mr. Jerry'll understand," she said
as Mary Rose ran to bring the goldfish.  "An' I hate to argue with her
today.  She can wear those now, but tomorrow she'll put on proper
girls' clothes to go to school.  I don't care what Brown an' Lawson or
anyone else says.  You hain't heard anythin' from them, have you?"

"Nothin' yet, but it won't be good news when it comes.  We'll have to
move, Kate.  Ol' Wells has seen to that an' after last night I don't
care so much.  If honest faithful work don't count for anythin' here I
dunno as I want to stay.  I can find another job.  It won't be as easy
as this.  This was just velvet for a man like me."

"Well, if they have the nerve to fire you just because you're givin' a
home to an orphan niece I hope Mr. Strahan writes it all over the front
of his paper.  I'd like to see it in big red letters an' then maybe the
owner an' Mr. Wells'd be ashamed of themselves."

"S-sh!  S-sh!" cautioned Uncle Larry but not quickly enough, for Aunt
Kate's voice was shrill and excited and Mary Rose in her little room
heard every word.

She stood and looked about her bewildered.  It wasn't possible that
anyone, even the owner of the Washington, would take her Uncle Larry's
work from him just because a little girl was living with him?  Aunt
Kate must be mistaken or perhaps she had misunderstood.  She often
found herself mistaken in her ideas of what grown people meant.  She
tried to think she was now as she took the globe and carried it
carefully into the dining-room and placed it on the table where the
sunlight fell on the fish and polished their golden scales.

"That's what I call a han'some present," admired Uncle Larry in the
same hearty voice Mary Rose usually heard from him.

She looked up quickly.  He wouldn't speak like that if he were going to
lose his work.  She hadn't understood.  That was it.  Children often
didn't understand grown people.

"They are beautiful," she said softly.  "I wasn't very welcoming to
them at first because I was afraid Mr. Jerry meant them to take the
place of darling Jenny Lind and nothing can do that--fish nor dogs nor
cats nor squirrels nor anything.  But when I watched them swim I found
they could have a place of their very own and so I'm very glad now to
have them."

"Of course you are.  But eat your breakfas', child, or Mr. Jerry'll be
callin' for you before you're ready."

That was a wonderful Sunday to Mary Rose.  She sat on the front seat
beside Mr. Jerry and as neither of them felt much like talking they
enjoyed the silence.  Mile after mile was left behind them and when
they began to pass through small towns and villages Mary Rose sat up
straighter.

"They're like Mifflin, only different," she murmured vaguely.

When they came to a little white meetinghouse standing all by itself
near the road Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary asked him to stop and let them go
to church.

"It seems as if it would be rather pleasant to go to a simple service
such as they must have here," she suggested.

"I'll put it to a vote," Mr. Jerry offered obligingly.  "Mary Rose,
what do you say?"

"Oh, let's!" she begged.  "And I'll pretend I'm sitting with Gladys in
the Evans pew and that Mr. Mann is preaching."

Mr. Jerry stopped the car by the roadside and they all stepped out.

"What a doggone idiot I was," Mr. Jerry whispered to Miss Thorley as
they followed his Aunt Mary and Mary Rose; "I might just as well have
taken the kid to Mifflin as to Blue Heron Lake, but I never thought of
it."

"This is better," Miss Thorley told him with pleasing promptness.
"Mifflin would have reminded her of Jenny Lind.  You can take her there
some other day."

"Will you go, too?" eagerly.  "I'll go any day you say."

But she only smiled over her shoulder as she went up the steps and into
the meetinghouse.  A quiet peaceful hour followed and when the service
was over Mary Rose slipped one hand around Mr. Jerry's fingers and gave
the other to Miss Thorley.

"I feel a lot better," she said.  "I think it was awfully kind of that
minister to preach about sparrows.  Jenny Lind isn't a sparrow but
she's a bird and when the Lord looks after sparrows so carefully I'm
sure he'd keep an eye on a canary."

She was more like her old self as they went on, faster now, because, as
Mr. Jerry explained, they had to make up the time they had spent in
church and if they didn't reach the hotel at Blue Heron Lake in time
for dinner all the chicken breasts and legs would be eaten and there
would be nothing left for them but backbones and necks.

"That's all Gladys ever has," Mary Rose told him importantly.  "You see
they have such a big family that all the other pieces are gone before
it is her turn to be helped.  She used to love to come to dinner at our
house so she could have a wishbone.  When her grandmother dies she'll
have a leg."

"My gracious!" murmured Mr. Jerry's Aunt Mary.

"My word!" giggled Miss Thorley.

Fortunately they reached the hotel in time to have their choice of
chicken and everyone was glad to see that Mary Rose was hungry and
seemed to enjoy her dinner.  After dinner they went for a ride on the
lake in a launch and then they sat in the shade of a dump of linden
trees and watched the bathers.

"Why didn't I tell you to bring your bathing suits?" Mr. Jerry asked
suddenly.  "What a dolt I was not to think of it."

"You're not a dolt!" Mary Rose said indignantly, although she hadn't
the faintest idea what a dolt was.  "And I couldn't have brought one
for I haven't one.  And anyway I wouldn't care to make too merry
today."  Her face clouded as she remembered why she did not wish to be
too merry.

It was long, long after her bedtime when the car stopped in front of
the Washington and it was a very sleepy tired little girl who was taken
into Uncle Larry's strong arms.

"I've had such a wonderful time," she murmured, half asleep.  "Uncle
Larry, have you found Jenny Lind?  We don't have to worry About her any
more because I know now the Lord has his eye on her."

Uncle Larry looked over her head to Mr. Jerry.  "I can't thank you,
sir," he said in a hushed voice, "but you've been a kind friend to the
little girl today."

"She's such a darling one has to be kind to her."  Miss Thorley
answered for Mr. Jerry and blushed when she realized it.  "Don't you
bother, Mr. Donovan.  I'm like Mary Rose, I know everything will be all
right."

"I hope so, Miss Thorley.  Thank you again, sir."  And he went in with
Mary Rose asleep in his arms.

"I can't thank you, either."  Miss Thorley held out her hand to Mr.
Jerry after she had said good night to his Aunt Mary.  "I've had a
perfect day and it was mighty good of you to plan it for Mary Rose."

He took her hand in both of his.  "It was mighty good of you to come
with Mary Rose and me.  And we're going to be friends, now, real
friends?" he asked gently.

She caught her breath and looked at him quickly.  "Y-es," she said
slowly.  "Of course, we'll be friends.  I--I'm glad you are willing to
be friends."

Mr. Jerry laughed oddly.  "I've learned about the value of that half
loaf.  Good night."



CHAPTER XIX

Nothing had been heard of Jenny Lind.  Jimmie Bronson had made a
surreptitious visit to Mr. Wells' apartment and had escaped only "by
the skin of his teeth," he assured Mr. Jerry.

"I didn't get any further than the window before that Jap caught me and
I didn't see any birdcage.  But I shan't give up, Mr. Longworthy.  I'll
find that canary yet!"

Everybody seemed more anxious now than Mary Rose.  She was so confident
that the Lord had his eye on the missing Jenny Lind that she almost
stopped worrying.  Aunt Kate resolutely refused to allow her to go to
the Lincoln School in the blue serge suit.

"You'll wear proper clothes or you don't stir a step," she said
sternly.  "An' if you don't go to school the truant officer'll come
here an' like enough I'll be arrested for not sendin' you.  If you
don't want your poor aunt to go to jail you'll stand up an' put on this
dress I bought 'specially for you."

She had not been able to resist a sale of children's clothes at the Big
Store and had bought three dresses for an eleven-year-old girl.  She
brought one out that morning, a blue and green and red plaid gingham
with a white collar and a black patent leather belt.  Mary Rose was
speechless with admiration when she saw it.  But if she had been so
proud of Ella's old clothes that she had to be punished, what would she
be in this ducky dress?

"I can't trust myself in it, Aunt Kate.  It's too beautiful.  It's fine
enough for a princess."

But after Aunt Kate had explained that if Mary Rose did not wear the
dress she might have to go to jail Mary Rose had no choice.  She would
have to wear the frock and go to school and try her very hardest not to
be proud.  She had only to think of Jenny Lind to humble her spirit.

She was very sedate as she walked with Aunt Kate.  It did not seem
possible that at last she was going to enter the big school building
with towers and battlements enough for a fortress.

"It is like a castle.  I don't care what Mr. Jerry said," she told Aunt
Kate as they went up the steps and into the principal's office where a
pleasant-faced middle-aged lady looked questioningly at Mary Rose and
asked how old she was.

From force of habit Aunt Kate said hastily: "Goin' on fourteen."

"Fourteen!"  The principal was plainly astonished.  "She's very small
for her age.  And backward if she is only in the sixth grade.  She
should be in high school at fourteen.  Has she been ill?"

Backward!  It was bad enough to be called small for her age, but to be
told that she was stupid was more than Mary Rose could bear in silence.
She opened her mouth to explain and then she remembered that she had
promised she would mortify her pride so she said never a word, although
she thought she would burst at having to keep quiet.  But Aunt Kate's
pride was also touched and she stammered hurriedly that she should have
said her niece was going on eleven.

"That sounds more normal."  And the principal smiled as she led the way
into a big sunny room full of children.  Mary Rose drew a sigh of
relief when she saw the teacher.  Mr. Jerry was all wrong about her,
for she was not an old witch.  She was as pretty a young woman as any
child could wish to have for a teacher.  She smiled at Mary Rose in a
very friendly fashion and found her a seat beside a little girl with
wonderful long yellow curls.  It was delightful to be with children
again and Mary Rose's face rivaled the sun.

Aunt Kate had a strange ache in her heart as she watched her.  Mary
Rose would make friends here, friends of her own age, and she would
miss her.  But that was the way of the world, she thought
philosophically.  When she was quite convinced that Mary Rose was happy
and contented and could find her way home alone she left the school.

Mrs. Bracken called to her from her window as she passed and she went
in to be introduced to Mrs. Bracken's niece, Harriet White.

"She is going to live with us," Mrs. Bracken explained, her arm around
Harriet's waist.  "Isn't she a big girl for thirteen?  I meant to be
back yesterday so she could start in school today, but we were delayed.
I was just telling her there was another little girl, Mary Rose, in the
building."

Mrs. Donovan looked almost enviously at Harriet White who was thirteen
and who appeared at least two years older.  How easy everything would
have been if Mary Rose had been as large.  She sighed and then smiled,
for she knew that she would not change small Mary Rose for big Harriet
White if she had the chance.  She gazed pleasantly at Mrs. Bracken,
whose face seemed to have found a new expression in Prairieville, and
said from the very depths of her heart:

"If you enjoy her half as much as we enjoy our niece you'll consider
yourself a lucky woman to have her."

"I know I'm a lucky woman," Mrs. Bracken answered heartily.  "I never
realized what made this building seem almost depressing until Mary Rose
came into it.  What is this Mrs. Schuneman tells me about Mary Rose's
bird?  I'm so sorry.  She was so attached to Jenny Lind.  Do you really
think that Mr. Wells had anything to do with it?"

"Oh, Mrs. Bracken, how could any man with a heart steal a child's pet
bird!"  Mrs. Donovan tried her best to be discreet as she told the
story.

"Of course, we all know that Mr. Wells is queer," Mrs. Bracken remarked
when she finished.  "Mrs. Schuneman said she understood that he had
complained to Brown and Lawson, but don't you worry, Mrs. Donovan.  Mr.
Wells is not the only tenant and I rather think the rest of us will
have something to say.  If he objects to Harriet Mr. Bracken will tell
him quite plainly what he thinks.  And there are others.  We all like
Mr. Donovan.  He's a good janitor, willing and pleasant, and we won't
let him be discharged without a protest.  Perhaps I shouldn't tell you,
but Mr. Strahan has written out a petition to send to the owner and
everyone in the building will sign it, I know, except perhaps Mr.
Wells."  And she laughed as if Mr. Wells' not signing the petition was
a joke.  "One against twenty won't have much influence."

Mrs. Donovan put out her hand and touched Mrs. Bracken's white fingers,
something she would not have dared to do two months earlier.  "Thank
you for telling me that.  Larry's tried, I know, and it isn't easy to
please so many people.  We don't know who the owner is so we can only
talk to the agents, but a petition signed by everybody ought to prove
to them that Mary Rose isn't a nuisance."

"Anything but a nuisance!" insisted Mrs. Bracken.



CHAPTER XX

Mary Rose had decided to write a letter.  The more she thought of what
she had heard her Aunt Kate say to her Uncle Larry that Sunday morning
the less she liked it.  She would write to the owner of the Washington,
to the man who made laws so that children and cats and dogs were not
allowed in his house, and tell him just how it was; and then, why, of
course, he would say it was all right, that Uncle Larry could stay and
she could stay, and everything would be as it was except for Jenny
Lind.  Her lip quivered as she tried hard to remember that the Lord had
his eye on Jenny Lind.

She had a box of paper of her own with cunning Kewpie figures across
the top of each sheet.  Miss Carter had given it to her one day when
Mary Rose told her of a letter she had received from Gladys.  The
letter to the owner of the Washington was not as easy to write as the
answer to Gladys' note had been.  She screwed her face into a frowning
knot as she tried to think what it was best for her to say.


DEAR MR. OWNER: [That much was easy.]

This letter is from Mary Rose Crocker, who lives in the cellar of your
Washington house.  I mean the basement.  We call them cellars in
Mifflin where I used to live, but in Waloo they are basements.  Uncle
Larry said you have a law that won't let children live in your house.
I don't understand that, for there have always been children.  Adam and
Eve had them and most everybody but George Washington.  He never did.
Is that why you named your house after him?  My mother died when I was
a tweenty baby and my father is in Heaven with her, too, and I had to
leave Solomon, he's my dog, in Mifflin and board out my cat, but he's
self-supporting now and my bird has been stolen, so there isn't anyone
but just me in the cellar.  I mean basement.  Aunt Kate and Uncle Larry
are my only relatives on earth and if I don't live with them I'll have
to go to an orphan's home, which I shouldn't like at all.  But if you
won't let Uncle Larry keep his job and me, too, of course I'll have to
go.  I'll try and not make any noise and be quiet and good if you'll
please let me stay and please, please, I'm getting less of a child
every day.  When I came I was going on eleven and now I'm almost going
on twelve, for my birthday is in two months.  Aunt Kate doesn't know
I'm writing to you.  Neither does Uncle Larry.  I thought of it all
myself when I heard Uncle Larry tell Aunt Kate you were going to take
his job away if I lived with them.  I know I shouldn't have listened,
but I did.  Perhaps you've never been an orphan and don't know what it
means to have all your parents in Heaven when Gladys Evans has
twenty-seven relations here on earth.  But I shall be much obliged if
you won't take Uncle Larry's job away from him and if you'll let me
live with him.  God bless you and me.

  Your obedient servant and friend,
    MARY ROSE CROCKER.


It was a long letter and quite covered two sheets of Kewpie paper.
There were many blots and more misspelled words.  Mary Rose frowned as
she looked at it.  It was the best she could do.  She was uncertain how
to get it to the owner and she did not wish to ask her uncle.  Mr.
Jerry could tell her.  He knew everything.  And holding the closely
written sheets in her hand she ran across the alley.

Fortunately Mr. Jerry was alone under the apple tree.  She handed him
the letter and watched his face anxiously while he read it.

"Is it all right?" she begged.  She had George Washington cuddled in
her arms and hid her face against his soft fur coat as she asked.  "I
know the words aren't spelled right but I'm only in the sixth grade.
Perhaps I should have put that in?  But is the meaning right?"

Mr. Jerry coughed twice before he answered.  "Just right, Mary Rose.
Exactly right!  I couldn't have done it better and I've been to
college.  Write on the envelope: 'To the Owner of the Washington' and
I'll take it over to the agents myself."

"Oh, will you!"  Mary Rose had been puzzled how to get it to the
agents.  She decided then and there that she would never be puzzled
over anything again.  Mr. Jerry could do everything.  First he had
taken her cat and then her dog and her friend from Mifflin and now her
letter.  Her heart was filled with a passionate devotion to him as she
laughed tremulously.  She was both proud and happy to possess such a
resourceful friend.  "Don't you think Mr. Owner sounds a little more
respectful?  You see," her voice shook, for it meant so much to her, "I
don't know him at all.  I've never had any chance to make friends with
him."

With Mr. Jerry's fountain pen she wrote carefully: "Mr. Owner of the
Washington."

Then she folded the letter smoothly and dropped a kiss on it before she
put it in the envelope.

"Just for friendliness," she said when she met Mr. Jerry's eyes and she
blushed.  Even her ears turned into pink roses.

He caught her in his arms and hugged her.

"Mary Rose," he said and his voice was not quite clear, "you're
absolutely the friendliest soul I know!"

"That's what I try to be, Mr. Jerry."  Her arm slipped up about his
neck.  "Daddy said I was to be friendly and the friendlier I was the
easier it would be."



CHAPTER XXI

Mary Rose loved her school.  It was too delightful to be with children
again and she made new friends rapidly.  After supper she liked to run
up to the third floor and tell Miss Thorley and Miss Carter what a
wonderful day she had had and they always seemed glad to hear.  She
often found Mr. Strahan there and generally there were grapes or pears
or peaches or candy to nibble while she told her tale.

Mr. Strahan had written a lot of stories out of Mary Rose's experiences
and he grinned with delight as he heard her talk of school.  He saw her
as a mine of human interest tales.

"If it hadn't been for her I'd never have kept my job this summer," he
told Miss Carter and Miss Thorley, one night after Mary Rose had gone.
"The old man liked the stuff she told me and it gave me a chance to
show what I could do.  I've a regular run now and a regular salary."
He looked across at Miss Carter and colored a bit.  "My foot's on the
ladder now for keeps."

Miss Carter laughed and colored a bit, too, as she hoped that his foot
was there "for keeps."  Miss Thorley caught the exchange of glances
with an odd little contraction of her heart.  Was that the way the wind
was blowing?  Funny she hadn't noticed anything before.  If Blanche
went away she would be left alone--alone with her work and her
independence.  She shivered involuntarily.  Once that had been all she
wanted.  Why didn't they satisfy her now?  They should satisfy her.
She'd work harder than ever on jam advertisements and when she had
saved a lot of money she'd go to New York and get a big position and
some people would have to admit that it would have been a waste to tie
her down to a humdrum--what was it Mary Rose had said?--"home for a
family."  Her lip curled with scorn.  Mary Rose was only a child.  She
didn't know that homes and families were not the most important things
in the world.  Someone else had told her what was the most important,
but she would not think of him.  She just would not.  And anyway all he
wanted now was friendship.  Men were so constant.  Her nose tilted.
She felt so much more scorn than a curled lip could express that her
nose had to tilt.  But until she could save a lot of money and go to
New York she would stay right there in the Washington and listen to
Mary Rose's experiences at the Lincoln School.

"It isn't like the school at Mifflin one bit, but I like it just the
same.  And I've made a lot of new friends.  I never realized how you
needed friends your own age until today.  I've managed very well and
been happy until--until," she gulped as she remembered what had
happened to make her unhappy, "the other day, but it's such fun to have
friends your own size.  There's that girl at Mrs. Bracken's.  She's
older and bigger than I am, but Mrs. Bracken said we could be friends
and there isn't as much difference as there is between me and Grandma
Johnson.  And we're friends.  There's a boy with only one leg in my
class," importantly.  "He's going to tell me how he lost the other one
tomorrow.  And a girl, Anna Paulovitch.  Isn't that a funny name?  She
was born in O-Odessa, Russia.  I never knew anyone who was born in
Russia before.  It's very interesting.  Do you know," her voice dropped
to a whisper, "that two years ago she lost all of her hair.  She was
sick and it disappeared until now there isn't even a single solitary
hair on any part of her head.  It's as bare, as bare," she looked about
for a comparison but could not find one that would suit her, "as
anything could be bare.  It's very strange."

"And does she go to school without any hair?" asked Bob Strahan, trying
to visualize Anna Paulovitch's bare pate.

"Oh, no!  You can't go to school without hair.  So last summer Anna
picked berries for a farmer and saved every penny and soon she had
enough to buy a wig.  Her own hair was black and she hated it.  She
always wanted yellow curls and so when she bought her wig she bought
long yellow curls.  They're perfectly beautiful.  You'd never guess
they didn't grow on her own head.  She showed me because I'm her
friend.  We're in the same number class."

"Ye gods!  Long yellow curls on a swart-faced black-eyed Russian."  Bob
Strahan laughed at the combination.

Miss Carter looked at him reproachfully as she swung the conversation
to the safe subject of Mrs. Bracken's niece.

"I wonder what Mr. Wells will have to say about her?" she asked.

"He can't steal her canary for she hasn't one," muttered Bob Strahan.

Mary Rose caught the words, low as they were uttered.

"You don't think Mr. Wells has my Jenny Lind?"  She was so astonished
that her eyes popped as far open as they could pop.  "He hates birds.
He told me so himself when I offered to lend her to him.  And we're
friends.  Not friends like us but sort of friends.  I'm sure he didn't
take her," she insisted.  "I must go now.  Aunt Kate said I could only
stay a minute.  Good night."

"I wish I could be as sure of old Wells as she is," Bob Strahan said
when the door closed behind her.

Mary Rose hesitated as she came to Mr. Wells' door.  She did not
believe that he had taken Jenny Lind and if he heard that people
thought he had, he would be so hurt and grieved.  She would have to
stop and tell him that she didn't believe it, anyway, not for a moment,
and if he wanted to borrow her goldfish any time, he could.  She'd be
glad to loan them to him.  That would show how she trusted him.  She
knocked rather timidly.  Mr. Wells, himself, opened the door.

"What d'you want?" he demanded gruffly.  He had a letter in his hand
and he made Mary Rose feel as if she had interrupted very important
business.

"I just stopped to tell you that no matter what other people say I know
you didn't steal Jenny Lind," she stammered.

"Steal Jenny Lind!" he thundered.  His face was one black frown.  "Who
said I did?  Come in."  He motioned toward the living-room.

"Everybody's saying so," faltered Mary Rose.  "But I know you better
than they do.  You couldn't steal the only pet a little orphan girl
had, could you?"

Mr. Wells opened his mouth twice before he could say a word and then he
only grunted a sentence that Mary Rose could not understand.  He threw
the letter he held on the table.  An enclosure dropped from it and Mary
Rose saw that there were Kewpies across the top of the paper.  She
recognized the writing also.

"Why--why!" she stammered.  She was so surprised that she could
scarcely speak at all.  "That's my letter, the one I wrote to the owner
of this very house."

A dull red crept up Mr. Wells' face into his grizzled hair.  "Yes, I
know," he rumbled.  "I'm a lawyer and the owner is a client of mine.
He gave it to me so I could advise him what to do."

"And what will you advise?" asked Mary Rose after a breathless silence.
Her heart was beating so fast that she was almost choked.  "Have you
read it?"

"Yes, I've read it."

"Uncle Larry and Aunt Kate don't know I wrote it.  I just had to
because if Uncle Larry loses his job it's all my fault.  Not all mine
really for it wasn't exactly my fault that my mother died when I was
six months old and that daddy went to Heaven in June so there was no
one left to take care of me but Aunt Kate.  I've tried to be good," she
resolutely winked back a tear, "and not make trouble.  Mrs. Schuneman
and Mrs. Bracken and Mr. Bracken and Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Rawson and
Miss Thorley and Miss Carter and Mr. Strahan like me awfully.  They
said so.  I wish you'd please speak to them before you give your
advice.  Will you?" eagerly.

The frown on Mr. Wells' face grew very black and threatening.  It made
Mary Rose's little heart jump right into her mouth and she shut her
white teeth tight so that it wouldn't jump out.

"It's--it's awfully rude of me to speak of it," she went on in a low
shamed voice.  "I shouldn't remind you, I know, but you are under an
obligation to me.  I was neighborly when you were sick.  I brought you
the goldfish.  It isn't much that I ask, just for you to speak to the
tenements.  If they say I'm a nuisance, why I won't say another word
because it's the law, but I _am_ getting bigger every day, now.
Please, promise me just that much?"

And Mr. Wells promised.  He couldn't very well refuse.  Mary Rose
caught his hand and hugged it to her thumping little heart.

"You're a kind, kind man," she said.  "I know you are.  I don't care
what people say.  And you'll see I'm treated fair?  That's all I ask,
Mr. Wells, honest it is!  Just for the owner to be fair.  Good night.
I'm going to tell everyone you didn't steal Jenny Lind."



CHAPTER XXII

There was a short story in the Waloo _Gazette_ the next evening that
would have interested Mary Rose very much if she had read it.  It was
one of the little incidents that have both a pathetic and a humorous
appeal and it was very well written.  It told of a little black-haired
swarthy-skinned girl who had always longed for long yellow curls.  When
illness robbed her of the hated, black locks she had resolutely set to
work to earn money to buy a wig that she might return to school.  All
summer she worked under the hot sun, picking berries for a neighboring
farmer, her bald head covered with a ragged straw hat, and when the
last berry was gathered and she had the required sum she had
triumphantly purchased the long yellow curls she had craved always.
And now, prouder than any queen, she was attending the Lincoln School.
It was the sort of story that a city editor likes for it brings shoals
of letters with offers of help, to the newspaper office, and proves in
a most practical way that it has been read.

Usually Mary Rose was home from school by four o'clock for at half-past
three her room was dismissed and it never took her more than half an
hour to say good-by to her numerous new friends and dawdle home.

But the afternoon after the story of the yellow-curls appeared in the
_Gazette_, Mary Rose was not at home at four o'clock.  She was not at
home at half-past four.  Mrs. Donovan looked uneasily at the clock.  It
was not like Mary Rose to be so dilatory.  At a quarter to five Mrs.
Donovan put on her hat and walked up the street.  She would go and meet
Mary Rose.  Perhaps the child had been kept after school, perhaps she
had stopped to play in spite of the fact that she had been told she
must come straight home from school always.

Mrs. Donovan walked the six blocks to the Lincoln School without seeing
as much as the hem of Mary Rose's gingham skirt.  The big school
building loomed up in front of her silent and forlorn.  She stared at
it before she went up the steps and tried to open the door.  It was
locked.  Then Mary Rose had not been kept after school.  Where could
she be?  She might have gone home a different way so as to walk with
one of her new friends.  Of course, she was safe at home by now.  Mrs.
Donovan retraced her steps very hurriedly but she found no Mary Rose in
the basement flat.  It was so strange that she was worried.  Where
could the child be?

Suddenly she laughed unsteadily.  What a fool she was.  To be sure,
Mary Rose had stopped to see Mrs. Schuneman or to exchange experiences
with Harriet White who was now attending the Lincoln School, too.  She
ran up to the first floor to knock at Mrs. Schuneman's door and say
breathlessly that she wanted to speak to Mary Rose at once.  Mrs.
Schuneman heard her and followed Mina.

"Mary Rose isn't here, Mrs. Donovan," she said.  "Hasn't the little
minx come home yet?"

"No, she hasn't!"  Mrs. Donovan was most unpleasantly disappointed.  "I
don't understand it.  I've told her again and again that she was to
come straight home as soon as school was out.  Then she could go out to
play.  But she was to come home first."

"Perhaps she's over to Mrs. Bracken's?" suggested Mrs. Schuneman and
she followed Mrs. Donovan across the hall.

But Mary Rose was not at Mrs. Bracken's.  Neither was she in any other
apartment in the Washington.  Mrs. Donovan's ruddy face lost its color.

"She can't be lost," she said, expecting Mrs. Schuneman promptly to
agree with her that Mary Rose could not be lost.  "She's big enough to
know where she lives if she is only ten."  She did not care now if
everybody knew how old Mary Rose really was.

"Of course, she isn't lost," everyone told her soothingly.  "She knows
where she belongs.  Perhaps she is over at Longworthys'?"

But neither Mr. Jerry nor his Aunt Mary had seen Mary Rose that day.
Jimmie Bronson, who came in while Mrs. Donovan was inquiring, had not
seen her since noon.  Mrs. Donovan was very uneasy as she went home.

"The little thing's that friendly and honest herself she thinks
everyone else is friendly.  She don't know anythin' about city folks.
I wish she'd come," she told Mrs. Schuneman who came down to hear if
Mary Rose had been found.

"You remember that girl over on Sixth Avenue who was kidnapped last--"
began Mrs. Schuneman and clapped her hand over her mouth, hoping Mrs.
Donovan had not heard.

But she had heard and her face whitened.  The minutes dragged slowly by
and Mary Rose did not come home.  Larry Donovan was downtown and was
late, also.  When he did come in he could not understand at first that
Mary Rose was missing.

"She's in the house somewhere," he insisted, "with Miss Carter or old
lady Johnson."

"I've inquired at every flat in the building," half sobbed Mrs.
Donovan.  "I can't imagine where she is."

"Who's her teacher?" asked Bob Strahan.  "Do you know her name?  I'll
telephone and ask her if she knows whether Mary Rose went off with any
of the kids."

Mrs. Donovan stopped twisting a corner of her white apron.

"Her teacher's name is Choate, Isabel Choate.  But I dunno where she
lives," she wailed.

"The directory does," Bob Strahan said encouragingly.  "And so, I'm
sure, does the telephone book."

He had no difficulty in getting Miss Choate on the telephone, but the
teacher only remembered that Mary Rose had left the building when the
other children did.  She had seen her go out of the school yard with a
group of boys and girls.  Who were they?  She was sorry but she did not
remember.  They had not impressed her.  She had noticed no one but Mary
Rose, who had such a strong personality one had to notice her.  She did
hope that nothing had happened to her and she, too, remembered the
little girl who had been kidnapped over on Sixth Avenue.

"Of course, nothing has happened to her," Bob Strahan said hurriedly.
"She'll turn up all right."

He told Mrs. Donovan the same thing when he went back and reported the
result of his interview.

"What shall I do?"  Mrs. Donovan was twisting the corners of her apron
into hard knots and her mouth twitched with nervousness.  "She's never
been out so late as this since she came to Waloo.  An' she's all alone!
I'll never forgive myself if anythin's happened to her."

"We'll go over to the police station," suggested Mr. Jerry.  "What did
she wear, Mrs. Donovan?  The police will want a description of her
clothes."

Mrs. Donovan sobbed as she described the blue and red and green gingham
frock with the white collar and black patent leather belt that had been
Mary Rose's pride.

"We'll call up the hospitals, too," Mr. Jerry said to Bob Strahan as
they drove to the police station in his car.  "It's just possible that
she has been hurt, an automobile or something, and taken to a hospital
If she was knocked unconscious she couldn't very well tell who she was."

"Gee!" exclaimed big-eyed white-faced Jimmie Bronson, who had jumped
into the tonneau and was standing with his hands on the back of the
front seat, "I hope Mary Rose wasn't knocked insensible!"

The police had heard nothing of any little girl who answered to the
description of Mary Rose but a careful note was made of what Mr. Jerry
and Bob Strahan had to say of her disappearance.  There had been no
report of any accident in the district and no child had been kidnapped
so far as the police knew.  Mr. Jerry and Bob Strahan were
disappointed.  They felt baffled.  It didn't seem possible that a
little girl could have disappeared so completely as Mary Rose had
disappeared.  When they drove back to the Washington, Jimmie was not
with them.  He was going to make a few inquiries on his own hook, he
told the two men.

"No news is good news, Mrs. Donovan," Mr. Jerry insisted.  "Mary Rose
is all right.  No one could harm her."

"I wish I could believe that."  Mrs. Donovan had lost control of
herself and was sobbing bitterly.  "Here it is after ten o'clock an' we
don't know where the little thing is.  Seems if bad luck was taggin'
her.  It isn't a week since her bird was stolen and now--" she
shuddered and hid her face in her apron.

"Nothing's happened to her," repeated Mrs. Schuneman with a poor
attempt at firmness.  "Nothing could happen to a child like Mary Rose.
It's when you're looking for trouble that trouble comes, Mrs. Donovan,
and Mary Rose never looked for trouble.  She was too busy looking for
friends."

"That's what she always said," exclaimed Grandma Johnson; "that the
pleasant things come to the people who are looking for pleasant things
but, land! see what's happened to her and if anyone ever looked for
pleasantness it was Mary Rose.  Why she even looked for it in us!"  And
she laughed harshly.

"And she found it, too," Mrs. Schuneman declared quickly.  "Yes, she
did.  She looked deep enough to find the pleasantness we didn't know
was there because we'd covered it up with so much disagreeableness.
I'm not ashamed to admit that she made me see that so long as you live
in a world with other people you owe some obligation to be agreeable to
them.  If each of us did our share, as Mary Rose was always asking us
to do, we'd find this world a friendlier place than it is."

"She must have said that to me a hundred times," sniffled Miss Adams.
"I knew she was right all the time but I wouldn't say so."

"It's easy to get out of the habit of being friendly in the city,"
murmured Mrs. Matchan.  "It's different in the country."

"I guess it's much the same, city or country.  If she hadn't found
Germania for me I'd have been in an asylum by now," asserted Mrs.
Schuneman.  "There I was all by myself and while a bird isn't a human
being, it's a lot of company.  And it's through Germania and Mary Rose
that I've got acquainted with all of you."

"If it hadn't been for Mary Rose I doubt if Mr. Bracken would have
asked me to go for Harriet," Mrs. Bracken said in a low voice.

It seemed as if each of them had something to say of what Mary Rose had
done for her.  Mary Rose's friendly nature, her undaunted belief in the
friendliness of people and of the world in which she lived had made
those whose lives she had touched develop friendliness also.  The dozen
people gathered in the Donovan living-room said so, quite frankly.

Suddenly the clock struck eleven times.  Mrs. Donovan burst into a
perfect storm of tears.  "She should have been in her bed hours ago!"
she sobbed.  "An' where is she?  Where's Mary Rose?"

"Sh--sh!"  There was a step on the stairs.  It seemed as if everyone
stopped breathing to listen.



CHAPTER XXIII

Larry Donovan jumped to the door.

But it was Mr. Wells' grim face that appeared in the circle of light
and his grimmer voice that asked harshly:

"What's the matter?  What's all this disturbance through the building,
Donovan?  Every door is open and there's a general turmoil."

They faced him indignantly, fellow tenants and janitor.  Each had had
some experience with him that had been more unpleasant than pleasant.
All of them knew that he disliked Mary Rose, that he had complained to
the agents because she lived in the basement with the Donovans.  Each
of them resented the selfishness that had brought him down to make
another complaint when all of them were so worried and anxious.  It was
Bob Strahan who put some of this feeling into words.

"No doubt you'll be glad to hear that Mary Rose, the little girl who
has been such a nuisance to you, has disappeared?" he said
sarcastically.

Mr. Wells looked at him from under his shaggy eyebrows.  "What do you
mean?" he snapped.  "What do you mean?"

Everyone tried to tell him at once but Mrs. Donovan who was sobbing in
her apron and could not speak.  Mr. Wells looked at her oddly.

"Nonsense!" he said when the story was clear to him.  "She's locked
herself in somewhere as she did once before."  He had heard of the time
the wind had slammed Mrs. Bracken's door and shut Mary Rose inside.
"She's fallen asleep."

"We've been in every flat but yours," Larry Donovan told him dully.

"Everyone but mine?" repeated Mr. Wells.  "Well, she wouldn't go
there."  Then he remembered that Mary Rose had been there in a
neighborly desire to be kind to him when he was ill, in a friendly wish
to tell him of her belief in him when he was under suspicion, and he
colored painfully.  For all he knew she might be there now.  She had a
habit of going when and where she pleased.  That was what made her such
a nuisance in his eyes.  "You can come and see for yourself," he said
sharply.  "So far as I know there's no one there.  Sako is out and I've
just come in."

They trooped eagerly after him up the stairs to the second floor, and
he had an unpleasant feeling that they expected to find Mary Rose
locked in his apartment, a prisoner by his orders.  Hadn't Mary Rose
herself told him that he was suspected of doing cruel things?  Well, he
didn't care what they thought, he muttered to himself as he put his key
in the lock.  But he did care.  Cross and crusty as he was, he was
human, and deep in the hearts of all human beings is the desire to have
people think well of them.

It was the first time any of them but the Donovans had been in the
apartment.  Mr. Wells threw open doors to closets and pantries.  He
even scornfully opened drawers and cupboards.

"Make a thorough search while you're about it," he snarled.

Under the sink in the kitchen Bob Strahan caught a bright gleam.  He
stooped down and picked up a piece of heavy brass wire.  It had been
broken at both ends and was twisted and bent.  Bob Strahan stared at it
and whistled softly.

"What is it?" Miss Carter ran across to him.  He drew her aside and
showed her the brass 'wire.  "Do you see that?  It's the kind of wire
that bird cages are made of."

"Oh!"  Miss Carter stared at him.  She couldn't believe it.  She turned
and stared at Mr. Wells as he stood so contemptuously and watched his
neighbors.  There was a sneer on his face.  "I w-wouldn't have believed
that anyone would be so despicable!"

"He's been a selfish brute, always finding fault with everyone and
everything.  You might almost think he was the darned old owner
himself," muttered Bob Strahan.

"He wouldn't make himself so disagreeable if he was the owner."  Miss
Carter nodded a wise head.  "He'd be too anxious to please his tenants.
No, it's just because he's so selfish and disagreeable and," she looked
at the broken wire and thought of friendly Jenny Lind, "brutal!"

"You're quite sure the child is not here?" they heard Mr. Wells say in
a voice that was as sarcastic as a voice could be, and there was a most
unpleasant glare in the cold black eyes.  "Quite convinced that I
haven't hidden her away to fatten for my breakfast?"

"Mr. Wells!  Mr. Wells!" began Mrs. Donovan indignantly but her spirit
died and she cried instead--quite involuntarily you may be sure: "Oh,
Mary Rose said there was sure to be good in you if we'd look for it."

It seemed to Miss Carter that a black screen was drawn over Mr. Wells'
face.  He said not a word but walked to the door and threw it wide
open.  One by one his neighbors went out.  No one said anything; there
seemed to be nothing to say.

"Good night."  Mr. Wells spoke with cold, almost ominous, curtesy and
he would have shut the door in their faces if he had not caught the
pitying look in a girl's eyes.  A dull red crept into his face.
Involuntarily he stepped toward Elizabeth Thorley.  "If you hear
anything of the child let me know," he said as if the words were forced
from him, and then he slammed the door behind him.

As they went down the stairs Miss Carter dropped behind the others.  So
did Bob Strahan.  As he waited for her he saw her dab her eyes with her
handkerchief and he put out his hand and touched her arm.

"Look here," he spoke sharply.  "That won't do.  Mary Rose is all
right, you know."  And he gave her a little shake.

"I'd like to see that for myself, that she is all right."  She dabbed
her eyes again with the damp little square of linen.

He put a hand on each shoulder and looked directly into her tear-wet
eyes.  "Listen to me.  I shan't go to bed until I do know that she's
all right.  I couldn't sleep.  Mary Rose has done too much for me.
When I think--Lord!--when she came here I was a friendless young cuss
hanging on to a job by the skin of my teeth and now--You know I used to
be crazy to know you when I met you in the hall and on the stairs and
it was Mary Rose, bless her heart! and her canary who made it possible
for us to be friends.  I can't forget that and I'll find her."

She looked up and there was a light in her eyes that caused his hands
to tighten on her shoulders.

"You know I love you, honey," he said quickly.  "I think I've always
loved you and ever since I got a real grip on my job I've wanted to
tell you.  If you could care half as much for me as I do for you
I'd--I'd--" he stopped before he told her what he would do for she had
lifted her face and he had seen there that she did care, as much as he
did.  He stooped and kissed her.

She kissed him also and clung to him for a moment before she pushed him
away.

"We--we shouldn't be thinking of ourselves now," her voice trembled.
"We must think of Mary Rose."



CHAPTER XXIV

Mrs. Donovan cried bitterly as she went down the stairs and Larry put
his arm around her.

"There, there, Kate," he said.  "Crying won't help any."

"If we could only do somethin', Larry!"  She wrung her hands.  "If we
could only do somethin'!  It seems awful just to have to wait an' wait.
I--I can't bear it."

"I'll call up the morning paper."  Bob Strahan and Miss Carter had
slipped down behind the rest and no one noticed that they came in hand
in hand.  "It won't do any harm to run a little story about Mary Rose
and then if she has strayed in anywhere or been found people will know
where to take her."

"The mornin' paper!" cried Mrs. Donovan.  "I can't wait for the mornin'
paper.  I want her now!"

The three men looked at each other and shook their heads.  She might
have to wait longer than for the morning paper to have news of Mary
Rose.  They felt so helpless.  They had followed every clew, they had
the assistance of the entire police force, but they had discovered
nothing.  They knew no more about Mary Rose than they knew when they
had first discovered that she had disappeared.

Miss Thorley put her arms around Mrs. Donovan and tried to sooth her.
All the red "corpuskles" had left her face now and her eyes had a
strained frightened expression.  It startled Mr. Jerry to see her show
so much emotion.  Usually she let one see very plainly that she was
interested in only her own affairs.  Tonight she had forgotten herself
in a sweet sympathy for Mrs. Donovan and in her anxiety for her little
friend.  It made Mr. Jerry's heart thump to hear her speak to Mrs.
Donovan so gently and so tenderly.  It made him more determined to do
something.  He was just about to suggest that he should telephone to
Mifflin although he was positive that Mary Rose had not run away, when
he heard a child's laugh on the street above them.

Kate Donovan heard it, too, and pushed Miss Thorley from her.

"It's Mary Rose!" she cried.  "Thank God!  It's Mary Rose!"

Before she could reach the door a burly policeman stood on the
threshold.  He held a bundle in his arms that struggled to reach the
floor.  Jimmie Bronson stumbled wearily behind them.

"Here's a very tired little girl for you," the policeman said, as he
dropped Mary Rose into Mrs. Donovan's hungry arms.

"Mary Rose!  Mary Rose!"  Mrs. Donovan was so happy that she cried and
cried.  The tears fell on Mary Rose's face.  "Where have you been?
Where have you been?"

"Yes, Mary Rose, where have you been?" demanded an eager chorus.  The
tears had rushed to Miss Thorley's eyes also and when she discovered
that, she discovered also that the hand with which she would have wiped
them away was held fast in the firm grasp of Jerry Longworthy.  How it
had found its way there she never knew.  She snatched it from him, her
face aflame, and there were no longer tears in her eyes.

Mary Rose hugged her aunt and beamed on her friends.  Her eyes were
like stars.

"How glad you'll be to hear what I've found!" she cried jubilantly.
"I've been in the most wonderful place, a big flat building like this,
only not so grand, but it has children!  And pets, too!  Dogs and cats!
It has, Uncle Larry!  I've seen them with my own eyes.  Lots and lots
of children!  Babies and all kinds!"  Her cheeks were scarlet.  "I
couldn't believe it myself at first but Anna Paulovitch said it was
true and that it had always been like that.  I asked her all about it
so I could tell you, Uncle Larry, and you could tell the owner of the
Washington.  He can't know!"

"Never mind that, Mary Rose."  Aunt Kate gave her a shake.  "I want to
know where you've been.  Why didn't you come straight home from school
as I've told you to, time an' again?  You've frightened us all to death
stayin' away so long."

Mary Rose looked regretfully at the people she had frightened to death
and then she smiled radiantly.

"Well, you see it was this way.  You know there was a story in the
newspaper last night about Anna Paulovitch's bald head and when she
went to school the boys made fun of her and teased her to show them if
she really was bald.  It hurt her feelings dreadfully and she was
afraid to go home alone so I said I'd go with her.  It's a long way
from here but I'm glad I went because I helped my friend and I found
Jenny Lind."

"You found Jenny Lind!"  Everyone was as astonished as Mary Rose could
wish.

Bob Strahan and Miss Carter looked at each other and Bob dropped the
piece of brass wire he had found in Mr. Wells' kitchen.

"Yes, I did.  Isn't it just like a fairy story?  You see if you do a
kind thing a kind thing's done to you.  I've told all of you that and
you wouldn't believe me but now you've got to.  Anna Paulovitch lives
in this big friendly house I was telling you about.  It isn't splendid
and beautiful like this but it is friendly and there are a lot of
children and pets.  The law lets them live there.  I didn't suppose
there was a house like that in all Waloo!  Anna's mother goes out
washing and her father's dead like mine.  She has seven brothers and
sisters that Mrs. Paulovitch has to find clothes and bread for.  It's a
good deal for one woman she said and I think it is, too.  And right
across the hall from the Paulovitch's, just like across the hall from
Mrs. Bracken's to Mrs. Schuneman's, lives John Kalich.  He's a
messenger boy and his sister Becky's been in bed for seven years.
She's nine now and Johnny's crazy about her.  He came here with a
message and when he saw Jenny Lind all by herself in the hall he
thought how much Becky would like her.  And Becky did like her.  She
hadn't ever seen a canary bird before.  I told her she could borrow
Jenny Lind for a while longer though I did want to bring her home
tonight.  But I thought, Aunt Kate, that since George Washington's
supporting himself and I haven't spent the money I earned washing Mrs.
Bracken's dishes and playing with the squirrels with Grandma Johnson
I'd buy a bird for Becky for her very own.  I'm going to let her keep
Jenny Lind until then.  It seems as if I was always lending Jenny Lind,
doesn't it?  Aunt Kate," she stopped suddenly and looked appealingly at
her aunt.  "I'm so hungry!  Can't I have some supper?"

"Haven't you had any?"  Aunt Kate was horrified.

"I couldn't eat any at Mrs. Paulovitch's because she only had enough to
go around once and anyway I don't think I care for Russian cooking,
bread and lard.  I'm an American, you know, and that's why I like
American cooking best."

Miss Thorley leaned over and took Mary Rose as Aunt Kate jumped up
murmuring: "Bread an' lard!  My soul an' body!"

"Why didn't you come home before, Mary Rose?" Miss Thorley asked when
she had Mary Rose cuddled in her arms.  She couldn't remember when she
had held a child before.  It was odd but she had suddenly found that
she wanted to hold Mary Rose.

[Illustration: "'Why didn't you come home before, Mary Rose?' Miss
Thorley asked."]

"I got lost."  Mary Rose blushed with shame.  "I thought I was so smart
I could come right home but I turned the wrong corner.  I was away over
on the other side of Waloo when a kind lady found me and put me on a
street car and gave me a nickel and told the conductor to keep his eye
on me.  But I forgot to tell her it was East Twenty-sixth Street and
she sent me west.  And then Jimmie found me."

"Good for you, James!"  Mr. Jerry reached over to slap Jimmie on the
back.  "How did you do that?"

"I was just looking round," Jimmie answered vaguely.  "I couldn't sit
down and do nothing with Mary Rose lost.  I had to look till she was
found and I was lucky and ran across her.  Gee, Mary Rose, but you did
give me a scare!  I was afraid you'd been kidnapped!"

"You know, Mary Rose, I told you always to come straight home from
school," called Aunt Kate from the kitchen.

"I know," in a shamed voice.  "And I always did until today, and
today--why, I didn't.  But I found Jenny Lind and I've made lots of new
friends.  Mr. Strahan," she peered around at Bob Strahan, "how did that
story of Anna's curls get into the newspaper?  Did you write it?"

Bob Strahan blushed until he was redder than any tomato that ever
ripened.  "Yes, Mary Rose, I did," he acknowledged.  "I thought it was
a dandy little story of a brave girl and that it would be good for
people to read."

"Of course, you didn't know that it would hurt Anna Paulovitch's
feelings.  She says she can't ever hold up her head again but I told
her she hadn't done anything to be ashamed of and I'd stand by her."

"I'll stand by her, too!" Bob Strahan promised quickly.  He had never
thought of a story but as a story.  The consequences it might have had
not occurred to him.  "And a lot of other people will stand by her.
You should see the letters that came to the office to day with offers
of help for Anna and her mother."

"Did they!"  Mary Rose was delighted.  "Then Mrs. Paulovitch won't have
to work so hard.  Oh, Miss Thorley," she drew the red-brown head down
so that she could whisper in a pink ear, "if you could just talk to
Anna's mother for a minute you'd know you wouldn't have to stop work to
make a home for a family.  She says it takes more than one pair of
hands no matter how busy you keep them.  Will you go with me when I
take the bird to Becky and talk to Mrs. Paulovitch?"

"Perhaps I will," stammered Miss Thorley, as she kissed the eager
little face, feeling that the room was suddenly filled with Jerry
Longworthy's eyes.

"Oh," Mary Rose jumped down and stood looking from one to the other,
"but I am glad to be home again!  It does seem a hundred years since I
had my dinner.  I don't think any girl ever had such a nice home or
such nice friends as I have and it's just because I have a friendly
heart!"



CHAPTER XXV

When Mary Rose went to school the next morning Mrs. Donovan had half a
mind to walk with her and make sure that she arrived there safely.
After the day before it seemed to her that many dangers might lie in
wait for Mary Rose and Mrs. Donovan had discovered that Mary Rose was
very rare and precious.  She watched her from the window and her eyes
opened wide in astonishment when she saw Mary Rose stop and wait for
Mr. Wells.  He looked twice as grim and twice as cross as he had ever
looked before to Mrs. Donovan as he came down the steps.  But it was no
wonder that he looked grim and cross.  His experience of the night
before, when he learned how his neighbors regarded him, could not have
been pleasant.  A cold shiver ran the full length of Mrs. Donovan's
spine as she remembered that experience.  If she had had any hope of
remaining in the cozy basement flat and keeping Mary Rose, it vanished
at the sight of that scowling face.  Mr. Wells would surely insist on
having Larry discharged.  She just knew he would.

Even Mary Rose's staunch and friendly soul was a bit daunted by Mr.
Wells' very unfriendly appearance but she tried to speak to him as
usual.

"Good morning, sir."

He looked down at her and his shaggy brows drew nearer together.  Mary
Rose had thought he could not look crosser but he managed to look
considerably crosser as he grunted: "So you're back?"  It almost
sounded as if he wished she hadn't come back.

She blushed.  "Did you hear that I was lost?  I was so ashamed.  I
thought I could find my way anywhere in Waloo just as I could in
Mifflin.  But you couldn't get lost in Mifflin, no matter how hard you
tried.  You'd be sure to find yourself in the cemetery or at the post
office or the lumber yard."  She looked up at the cross face and
ventured a smile.  "You'll be glad to hear that I've found Jenny Lind,"
she said joyfully.  "I knew all the time you hadn't borrowed her and I
guess now other people will be sorry they thought you stole her."  She
laughed and nodded to let him see how very glad she was that his
innocence was proved.

Mr. Wells was too amazed to add anything to his scowl.  "You've found
your bird?" he asked stupidly.

"Yes, I have.  I'll tell you all about it.  Are you going my way?
Usually I go up the other street, that's the shortest, but today I'm
going over this way to meet Anna Paulovitch and walk with her so the
boys won't tease her."  And she told him about Anna Paulovitch and her
yellow curls which had led to the discovery of Jenny Lind.  "And I'm
going to buy Becky a bird of her own with the money I've earned,
because I don't have to pay a cent of board for George Washington.
He's self-supporting, you know.  Isn't it wonderful to be
self-supporting?  Mrs. Paulovitch has seven children and only one of
them can earn anything.  He's Mickey and he sells papers after school.
If I were a gentleman and bought papers I'd always buy them of Mickey,"
she hinted delicately.  "The other Paulovitches who are over six have
to go to school.  It takes a lot of washing to make bread enough for
them but Mr. Strahan thinks he has found friends to help Anna.  Aren't
you glad you were born in America instead of Russia?"  She told him why
he should be glad as they walked along.

He looked down at her curiously out of the tail of his eye but he said
never a word.  Indeed, Mary Rose gave him little opportunity for speech
as she had so much to say.  When they reached the corner where Anna
Paulovitch waited across the street like a stolid figure of Patience,
Mary Rose waved her hand.  Anna Paulovitch responded like a semaphore.

"That's Anna!  That's Anna Paulovitch," Mary Rose said eagerly.  "Isn't
her hair beautiful?"  Mary Rose admired the long yellow curls
immensely.  "It seems a pity they couldn't have grown on her own head
when she would have appreciated it so but I expect the Lord knew best.
I'm awfully glad I met you so that I could tell you about Jenny Lind.
You don't have to worry another minute for everyone knows now that you
never touched her."

"Here, wait a minute!" Never had Mr. Wells' voice been gruffer nor his
frown blacker.  "How much is a canary?  Can you get one for this?"  He
took a bill from his pocket and offered it to Mary Rose.

"Mr. Wells!"  Mary Rose took his hand and squeezed it.  "That's a lot.
I'm sure you can get a splendid bird."

"Well, get one then," snapped Mr. Wells.

"You mean for Becky?"  Mary Rose could scarcely believe her two small
ears.  "I'll be glad to."  She regarded him with an admiration that
should have made him feel enveloped in a soft warm mantle.  "I'll tell
her it's a present from a kind gentleman who wants to be her friend.
Sometime I'll take you to see her.  What shall we name her bird?  You
think and I'll think and then tonight we can choose.  It must have
something to do with music, you know.  Good-by."  She squeezed his hand
again and started across the street but ran back.  "I forgot to tell
you something that's most important," she said in a low voice.  "Did
you ever imagine there would be a flat-house right here in Waloo where
the law lets children live?  The Paulovitchs live in one.  They do
really.  I saw them!  And cats and dogs, too.  I did!  It wasn't like
the Washington but it was a flat-house.  It seemed such a friendly
place.  I thought you didn't know and now you can tell your friend who
owns the Washington.  I don't suppose he knows either.  You haven't
heard anything from him about me, have you?"  She looked up wistfully.
"I'd--I'd hate to have to go away to an orphan's home now," she
whispered and there were tears in her blue eyes.

He looked down at her and coughed before he answered.  "No, I haven't
heard anything."

"If you see him today will you tell him of that friendly house I was
telling you about?  That there are flat-houses in Waloo where children
can live?  It might make him willing to let them live in his house.
And please!" she clung to his hand, "please tell him that I'm growing
older every single day I live!"



CHAPTER XXVI

That very afternoon Mr. Jerry and Mary Rose bought a canary for Becky
and paid for it with the five-dollar bill that Mr. Wells had given Mary
Rose.  Mr. Jerry insisted that that particular bill should have been
framed and Mary Rose insisted that Mr. Wells had said it was to buy a
canary.  She could not understand why Mr. Jerry had laughed nor why he
said: "Oh, very well.  But honestly, Mary Rose, it should be framed."

He took Mary Rose and the new canary in his car to the flat-building
that allowed children to live in it.  Becky wept with joy when she was
told that the bird was to be her own.  John was at home and he blushed
and stammered as he tried to explain to Mr. Jerry that he hadn't meant
any harm to anyone, cross his heart if he had! but as soon as he saw
Jenny Lind he had thought what company she would be for Becky.  And Mr.
Jerry kindly said he understood perfectly and that if John ever wanted
any advice or help he was to come straight to him.

"You see it's a very friendly house," Mary Rose whispered as she and
Mr. Jerry went down the long flights of stairs.  "See how many children
there are!"

Mr. Jerry looked about him.  There were, indeed, many children of
assorted nationalities and sizes.  There could not have been a greater
contrast to the orderly and clean, if childless, Washington.

"It's undoubtedly friendly, Mary Rose," agreed Mr. Jerry.  "And there
are lots of children but there are also lots of smells."

She crinkled her small nose.  "I expect that's Russian," she suggested.

On their way home they passed Bingham and Henderson's big jam factory
and Mary Rose caught a glimpse of Miss Thorley waiting for a street
car.  When she called Mr. Jerry's attention to the enchanted princess
he deftly inserted his automobile between Miss Thorley and the
approaching car.

"Room for one more passenger here," he said with a grin.  "And the fare
will be even cheaper."

"Do come with us, Miss Thorley!" begged Mary Rose.  "See, here's Jenny
Lind.  You'll want to speak to her.  And there's such lots of room
right here with us.  Isn't there, Mr. Jerry?"

"Scads of room.  I don't see how you can hesitate."  And he looked at
the crowded street car where people were standing on the platform and
the conductor was calling impatiently: "Move up in front!"

Miss Thorley looked also.  The street car was not so inviting as the
automobile.  Prejudiced as she was she had to admit that.  She laughed.
"Oh, very well," she said.

Mr. Jerry jumped out and triumphantly robbed the street car company of
a fare.  He helped Miss Thorley in beside Mary Rose and Jenny Lind.

"You see there's lots of room," Mary Rose fairly bubbled with joy.
"Just as Mr. Jerry said.  Aren't you glad to see Jenny Lind again?  I
can't see that she has changed a feather."

"We'll leave her at the house and then run out to Nokomis for a breath
of air.  That friendly flat of the Paulovitch's has almost strangled
me.  I have a great yearning for wide open spaces," Mr. Jerry told Miss
Thorley over Mary Rose's head.

They left Jenny Lind with Aunt Kate and drove along the boulevards and
around the lake.

"Isn't it a beautiful world?" asked Mary Rose suddenly.  "I just love
it and everybody in it!  Don't you, Mr. Jerry?"

"I won't go so far as to say I love everybody but I certainly do love
you, Mary Rose," he told her with pleasing promptness.

"And Miss Thorley, too?" demanded Mary Rose, jealously afraid that Miss
Thorley might feel hurt if she were excluded from Mr. Jerry's
affections.  "She's the enchanted princess, you know," she reminded him
in a whisper.  "You must love her."

Mr. Jerry was so silent that Mary Rose pinched his arm.

"Sure, I love Miss Thorley," he said then, very hurriedly.

"And she loves you, don't you, Miss Thorley?"  Mary Rose pinched Miss
Thorley's arm to remind her that something was expected of her, also.

There was a longer pause.  Mary Rose had to pinch Miss Thorley's arm a
second time and Mr. Jerry, himself, had to ask her in a funny shaky
sort of a voice:

"Do you, Bess?  Do you?"

Miss Thorley tried to frown and look away but she was not able to take
her eyes from the two faces, the man's and the little girl's, which
looked at her with such imploring eagerness.  And what she saw in those
two faces made her heart give a great throb.  In a flash she knew, and
knew beyond a doubt, that at last she could answer the question that
had been tormenting her for over half a year.  Long, long before that
she had learned that everything one has in this world must be paid for
and the question that had caused her to lose her red "corpuskles" had
been whether she was willing to pay the price or whether she would go
without the love and happiness and companionship that were offered to
her.

She flushed adorably as she met Mr. Jerry's anxious eyes.  "I--I don't
want to," she said with rueful honesty and then the words came in a
hurried rush, "But I'm--I'm afraid I do!  It's all your fault, Mary
Rose."  And she hid her pink cheeks in Mary Rose's yellow hair.

"My fault!"  Mary Rose was surprised and puzzled and a wee bit hurt.
She did not understand how she could be to blame.

But Mr. Jerry understood and with a quick exclamation he stopped the
car.  And there, behind a great clump of tall lilac bushes, he put his
arms around them both.  He kissed them both, too, Mary Rose first and
hurriedly and then Miss Thorley, second and lingeringly.

"You dear--you darling!" he said to Miss Thorley and his breath came
quickly and his eyes shone.  He kissed her again.  "You dearest!  I've
been the most patient lover on the footstool.  Thank God, I was patient
and just wouldn't be discouraged!"

Mary Rose caught his sleeve.  "Are you the prince, Mr. Jerry?" she
wanted to know and her eyes shone, too.  "And is the spell broken?
Have you driven away the old witch Independence?  What did it?"

Mr. Jerry smiled at her flushed face.  His own face was flushed and it
had a wonderful radiance to Mary Rose as she looked up at him.  "Love
did it, Mary Rose."  He squeezed her hand.  "Love for you and love for
me.  Love's the only thing that can break old Independence's spell."

"Independence isn't a wicked witch, Mary Rose," interrupted Miss
Thorley, who was squeezing Mary Rose's other hand.

"Isn't she?" Mary Rose was doubtful.  Mr. Jerry had said she was a most
wicked witch.

"A wicked witch would never make a girl brave and strong and self----"

"Self-supporting like George Washington," Mary Rose broke in jubilantly.

"Self-supporting," Miss Thorley accepted the word with a smile, "and
keep her safe and busy until her prince came and she could be a real
help to him.  Independence isn't a wicked witch, Mary Rose.  She's a
girl's good fairy."

"Is she, Mr. Jerry?" Mary Rose had to have that theory indorsed before
she could be quite sure.  "Is she?"

"I expect she is," Mr. Jerry handsomely admitted.  "Perhaps I've been
mistaken in the old girl.  Anyway we're friends now, good friends.
And, Mary Rose," he went on grandly, "ask me what you will and you
shall have it, even to the half of my kingdom.  I can't give you the
whole of it because the other half, the half that includes me, is now
the property of the most beautiful princess in the world."

The most beautiful princess in the world laughed in a funny choked sort
of a way and she hugged Mary Rose.  "You see, honey girl," she said,
and Mary Rose loved her voice now that the enchantment was broken and
she could hear how soft and sweet it was, "we own him together, you and
I."

Mary Rose looked at their joint property with awe and admiration.  "Do
we?"  It scarcely seemed possible.  "Aren't we the lucky girls!"



CHAPTER XXVII

Never did a five-passenger automobile hold more happiness than that car
of Mr. Jerry's as it was driven slowly back to the Washington that
wonderful September evening.  And never did the Washington look more
pleasant.  A little group of tenants, Mrs. Schuneman, Mrs. Willoughby,
Mrs. Matchan and Miss Carter, were standing out in front talking of
what had happened the night before.  Mary Rose waved her hand to them
and to Bob Strahan, who was hurrying up the street.

"Say!" he called.  "I've found out who owns the Washington.  It's old
Wells!"

"Mr. Wells!"  They stared from him up to the windows of Mr. Wells'
apartments which were wide open.

"Yep!  I had to dig up some stuff over at the building inspector's and
ran plump against the fact that the owner of the Washington has always
been Horace J. Wells.  No wonder he acted as if he owned it."

"But he told me he was a friend of the owner," objected Mary Rose, when
she understood.

"I guess he isn't a friend to anyone but himself," murmured Bob Strahan.

Mary Rose sat there in the car and tried to think it out.  If Mr. Wells
really did own this strange two-faced building why hadn't he told her
so when she had asked him to plead for her?  She supposed that he had
made up his mind that she would have to leave, that the law never would
let children live there, and hated to tell her.  Mary Rose felt as if a
black cloud had fallen over this day that had been so happy and she
winked rapidly to keep the tears from her eyes.  She even tried to wave
her hand to Aunt Kate when she came to the window.

Contrary to custom Aunt Kate did not wave back but ran out.  She had a
letter in her hand and looked very, very much pleased.

"You've heard good news, Mrs. Donovan.  Who's died and left you a
million?" asked Bob Strahan.  "Your face looks like a Christmas tree,
all decorated and lighted."

"Have you?" Mary Rose asked and she jumped from the car and stood
beside her aunt.  "Have you heard good news, Aunt Kate?  Has anyone
left you a million?"

Aunt Kate stooped and put her arms around Mary Rose.  "It's worth more
'n a million to me, Mary Rose.  I've had the best of news.  Larry's had
a letter from Brown an' Lawson."  She stood up and looked from one to
the other of the people who had gathered around her.  There were tears
in her eyes.  "They say we can keep Mary Rose.  That so long as the
tenants are willin' an' because she's gettin' older every day they
won't insist on the rule of the house bein' enforced.  They say Mary
Rose can stay as long as we want to keep her."

"Hurrah for Mary Rose!" cried Bob Strahan and he flung his hat into the
air.

"Hurrah for Mary Rose!" echoed Jimmie Bronson, who had run around the
corner to stand grinning at Mary Rose.

Mary Rose stood quite still and stared at her aunt.  Her blue eyes were
very large and as bright as stars.  "I can stay," she said softly,
almost unbelievingly.  "I can really stay?  Oh, where's Mr. Wells!
Where is Mr. Wells!  I want to tell him this very minute how much
obliged I am.  Oh, there he is!"

For Mr. Wells had actually come up the street and was about to slip
grumblingly past the little group that blocked the walk.  Mary Rose ran
to him.

"I can't thank you," she said in a trembling voice, although the
radiance in her face should have thanked anyone.  "But I do think you
are the very friendliest man that God ever made!"

Friendly!  Mr. Wells actually blushed.  He tried to frown but the
attempt was a wretched failure for Mary Rose had dropped a soft kiss on
the hand she had clasped.  "See that you do what I promised the owner
you'd do," he grunted, making a failure, also, of his attempt to speak
crossly.  "See that you grow older every day."

"Oh, I will!" promised Mary Rose.  "I will!" she repeated firmly and
she squeezed his hand as she looked up at the big red brick building
that could now be her home.  The spell had been removed from it, too.
There were tears in her blue eyes as she dropped Mr. Wells' hand and
put out her arms as if she would take them all into her embrace.  Her
face was like a flower, lifted to the sun, as she cried from the very
depths of her happy, grateful heart:

"I--I just knew this beautiful world would be full of friends if I felt
friendly!"





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