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´╗┐Title: Mostly Mary
Author: Feehan, Mary Edward, 1878-
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 "Mostly Mary" ***

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



                                Mostly Mary

                              _by_ "CLEMENTIA"

    Author of Uncle Frank's Mary The Quest of Mary Selwyn Bird-a-Lea,
    Etc.


    Published by
    MATRE & COMPANY
    CHICAGO

    Copyright 1921 by
    MATRE & COMPANY

    All Rights Reserved


                     To
           four little rancheros,
    Patricia, George, Edward, and Eleanor,
      this story of other little people
           is lovingly dedicated.



[Illustration: When at last she entered the sitting-room--with her pet
white kitten, a rubber doll in a gay worsted suit, a big brightly
colored rubber ball and a teddy bear almost as large as herself clasped
in her arms.]



CONTENTS


   Chapter                                              Page

        I. The S'prise                                     9

       II. A Busy Morning                                 21

      III. A Visit to Maryvale                            27

       IV. Mary's Plan                                    38

        V. The First Friday                               53

       VI. A Little Cross                                 63

      VII. The Shadow Falls                               73

     VIII. The Rustle of Angels' Wings                    83

       IX. A Grave Question                               94

        X. A Severe Test                                 101

       XI. Welcome Visitors                              109

      XII. Those Precious Last Hours                     117

     XIII. Sister Julia                                  124

      XIV. The Real Mary                                 134

       XV. In the Firelight                              146



MOSTLY MARY



CHAPTER I.

THE S'PRISE.


"Dickie-Bird, have you seen our Goldilocks?" asked a deep voice at the
door of the playroom.

"Here I am, Father!" and a dear little girl, half hidden by the window
curtains, dropped the doll which she had been hugging and ran into Mr.
Selwyn's arms. "I'm _so_ glad you are here! Everything has been so--so
different this morning. Liza came, instead of Aunt Mandy, to call me and
help me to dress and then she told me to wait here for you,
and----and----"

"And you thought Father had forgotten his little lass, eh?"

"I didn't quite think that, Father; but I was beginning to feel lonely,
because I had to stay here instead of running right down to have
breakfast with you and Mother and Uncle Frank."

"I see. Are you often lonely, pet?" asked her father, stroking the
bright hair which fell in a mass of ringlets on her shoulders.

"Not _very_ often, Father,--just sometimes, when you and Mother and
Uncle Frank all go out to dinner or to a concert or something like that.
Then--then I can't help wishing that God hadn't taken my little brothers
to heaven. Of course, it's lovely for them to be there; but it would be
so nice to have someone to play with _all_ the time--not just sometimes,
the way it is when Evelyn and Hazel and Rosemary come to see me. Mother
says that Robert would be five years old, and Francis, three; and oh! we
would have the best times! I wouldn't mind if they broke my dolls once
in a while. Hazel won't let her little brother _touch_ one of hers. But
I think a really, truly, live brother is better to play with than all
the dolls in the world. I would never be lonely if I had one."

"Well, pet, I think I can truly say that you will never be lonely
again," and taking Mary's frail little hand, Mr. Selwyn led her out into
the hall.

She thought they were going to breakfast, and looked up in surprise when
they passed the head of the stairs. Her father smiled in a knowing
fashion, and paused before the closed door of a sitting-room next to her
mother's bedroom.

"Oh, have you a s'prise for me, Father?" whispered the little girl,
clasping his hand with both of hers.

"A most beautiful surprise, dear. Perhaps you would like to guess what
it is."

Mary looked very thoughtful for some moments; then, "It can't be a new
doll, because Uncle Frank brought me one yesterday; and it can't be a
letter from Aunt Mary, because that would be under my plate at the
table. Besides, those things wouldn't make this morning so different
from every other morning, and I can't think of a single thing that
would."

"Then we had better waste no more time."

Her father opened the door, and Mary looked eagerly about the room, but
could see nothing that had not been there the night before. Mr. Selwyn
whispered quickly, "Sit in that big chair, and I shall bring the
surprise to you."

He tiptoed into her mother's room, and a moment later, Aunt Mandy, her
colored nurse, came out, carefully carrying a white bundle. Mr. Selwyn
followed with one just like it.

"Dah yo' is, honey! But yo' ole mammy is 'fraid it am too hebby fo'
yo'," chuckled Aunt Mandy, placing her bundle on Mary's lap.

"Oh! oh! oh! See, Father, it's a _baby_!" whispered the little girl. "A
dear, sweet, darling, really, truly, live _baby_! Oh!"

"And see what I have," laughed her father, seating himself in a chair
beside her.

"_Another_ baby! Oh! oh! _oh!_"

"Twins, ma bressed lamb! Dat's what dey is!" declared old Auntie.

"Whose are they, Father?"

"Why, ours, pet,--our very own--your little twin sisters."

"_My--little--twin--sisters!_ Both of them _mine_! Oh, _isn't_ God good!
I have been asking Him for a little sister ever since He sent Rosemary
one; but I never dreamed that He would give me _two--never_! _Isn't_ He
good!" and Mary lightly kissed the lips, cheeks, forehead, eyes, and
even the nose of the mite she hugged. "Please take this one, Aunt Mandy,
and let me love that one a few minutes."

"You will find this little lady somewhat heavier," warned her father.
"Better let me help you hold her."

"There!" said Mary with a happy sigh, "I gave her just as many as this
one," holding up her arms for the baby which Aunt Mandy held; "for, of
course, I love them both exactly the same. And, Aunt Mandy, you must
not bother about me any more. You won't have time, you know. I can
dress my own self, all except the buttons 'way up between my shoulders;
and I can wash my neck and ears clean, too."

"Bress yo' li'l heart, honey! Does yo' think fo' one instinct dat yo'
ole mammy is gwine to let yo' git yo' curls all wet, an' kotch yo' def
ob cold dat-a-way? An' who's gwine to bresh de tangles out'n dem curls,
I lak to know?"

"But I can wear my rubber cap when I am washing my neck and ears, just
as I did when I went in bathing at the seashore. I suppose, though, that
someone will have to help me with my hair. Oh, I know just the thing! I
can have it cut off, and then I can fix it my own self."

"What's dat! what's dat yo's sayin', Miss May-ree! Cut off dem curls?
No, _sah_! Dey ain't gwine to be no hair-cuttin' round heah! Aunt
Mandy's gwine to tek de bes' ob care ob all her li'l bressed lambs; she
sho' am!"

"Well, well! what does big sister think about all this?" whispered
Doctor Carlton, Mrs. Selwyn's brother, coming into the room as Aunt
Mandy left it. "Is her nose out of joint, Rob?"

"My nose, Uncle Frank?" echoed Mary, lifting a happy little face for his
good-morning kiss. "It doesn't pain at all, so I'm sure it can't be out
of joint. When I put my thumb out of joint, it pained dreadfully until
you fixed it for me."

"No, Frank, there is no room for anything here but pure joy. She has
been asking God to give her one little sister, and He has sent her two;
so her cup of happiness is full to the brim."

"Do you think they will wake soon, Father? I want to see what color
their eyes are. What are their names?"

"We think of calling the one you have Elizabeth after Mother. She has
blue eyes and will probably resemble Mother just as you do."

"And the little heavy-weight in your father's arms has very dark eyes
like his, so she must be named for him--Roberta. Elizabeth and
Roberta--can you improve on those names?"

"They are just the loveliest ones I know; but--but----"

"Out with it," insisted the Doctor.

"Don't you--don't you think they are----well, just a _little_ bit too
big for such teeny, weeny babies?"

"They are rather imposing names for such mites," agreed Mr. Selwyn, "but
the babies will grow up to fit them, you know."

"Perhaps we might shorten them to Betty and Bobbie for the present,"
proposed the Doctor, with a twinkle in his eye.

"But Bobbie is a boy's name; and Mother told me a story about a
_naughty_ little girl named Betty, so I wouldn't like to call my little
sister by such a name. Let--me--see. E--liz--a--beth.... Oh, I know! We
can call this one Beth until she is big; and that one--," Mary knit her
brows in deep thought, "how would Berta do?"

"Berta and Beth--capital!" declared the Doctor; and Mr. Selwyn agreed
with him.

"When will they be baptized, Father?"

"Next Sunday, probably."

"To-day is Tuesday.

    'Monday's child is fair of face, 'Tuesday's child is full of
    grace,'"

sang the little girl, softly.

"Have you decided on the godparents, Rob?"

"We think of asking Phil and Etta Marvin--Wilhelmina's father and
mother, Mary. You remember the little girl whose photograph Uncle
brought you from Georgia last spring."

"The one with seven brothers?"

"Yes, dear, that is Wilhelmina Marvin. Uncle and I went to college with
her father, and Aunt Mary and her mother were little girls together."

"You must meet Wilhelmina one of these days. She is a great girl--climbs
trees, rides horseback like a little Indian, and is as much a boy as any
one of her brothers. The next time I go to Sunnymead, I shall take you
with me."

"Father and Mother and Berta and Beth must come, too, Uncle."

"That is understood, pet."

"Will you please take this baby--I mean Beth, for a few minutes?"

"Certainly, dear. Your poor little arms must be quite tired."

"Oh, no, Uncle! Why, I am sure that I could hold both babies all day
long without being tired. I shall be back in just a little minute," and
Mary slipped away, leaving the two men to wonder where she had gone.

Back to the playroom she flew, caught up her two prettiest dolls, and
was hurrying from the room when she paused.

"I'm afraid they might hurt themselves with these. I had better take
soft things."

She walked about among her toys, choosing first one, then another, until
her father began to think that she was not coming back. When at last she
entered the sitting-room, he and the Doctor had quite a time to keep
from laughing aloud at sight of her with her pet white kitten, a rubber
doll in a gay worsted suit, a big, brightly-colored rubber ball, and a
Teddy bear almost as large as herself clasped in her arms.

"I was afraid they might think we don't want them if there is nothing
for them to play with when they wake," she explained.

"So you are going to share your toys with them, are you?" and Mr. Selwyn
put his arm about her, drawing her to his knee.

"Of course, Father. They can have everything of mine that they want; but
most of my dolls are hard ones that might hurt them. I shall save those
until they are older. Snowball and Teddy and these other things are nice
and soft, you see."

"God bless her!" murmured the Doctor, a mist gathering in his eyes. "No
jealousy here; that is certain."

"You have made a very wise choice, pet; but see these tiny fingers.
Don't you think that they will have to grow stronger before they can
hold even such lovely, soft things? These little folks will be so busy
taking naps, you know, that they will not have time to play with toys
for some months."

"Why, I forgot all about that," laughed Mary. "You see, Father, I was
such a little bit of a thing when Robert was a baby; and Francis stayed
with us only a few days, so that I don't know very much about babies. I
hope Berta and Beth will stay a long, long time," she added wistfully.

"God grant that they may, darling," said her father, earnestly; for he
had felt keenly the loss of his two infant sons.

"There is just one thing that would make everything nicer," said Mary
after a long pause.

"And that is----?" inquired the Doctor.

"One more baby."

"But I thought you were more than satisfied with two," laughed her
father.

"But if there were three, Father, we could name one Francis after Uncle
Frank. That is a boy's name and a girl's name, too; so it wouldn't make
a bit of difference whether the baby was a boy or a girl."

The Doctor, greatly touched by the child's love for him, drew her to
him, saying, "But one baby was named for me, little one, and I surely
cannot expect more than that."

"Oh, I know the very thing! We can buy a Chinese baby for five dollars
and name it Francis! Sister told us about it in school last spring; and
we gave her all our pennies, and she sent them away to buy a poor little
baby so it would be baptized; and we named it Mary for our Blessed
Mother. Of course, we could never see the baby that we buy,
but--but--well, when it dies, it will go to heaven--that is, if it keeps
on being good when it grows up. But I know something else. When Evelyn's
big sister was confirmed, she took another name. So when I am confirmed,
I shall take Frances; and then I shall be your little girl more than
ever."

"All my names could not make you any more my little girl than you are
now, pet. But come; it is time you had some breakfast. These little
folks intend to take a long sleep this morning."

"Father! Let us call up Aunt Mary after breakfast and tell her the
s'prise. Do you think we could take the babies out to see her this
afternoon?"

"They are very young for so long a trip, dear. Liza shall take you out
to Maryvale, and you may tell Aunt Mary everything that you forget to
say over the telephone."

"Will Mother be awake after breakfast?" asked the little girl, with a
longing look toward the door of the next room.

"I shall tell Aunt Mandy to send for you the moment she opens her
eyes."



CHAPTER II.

A BUSY MORNING.


The morning was a very short one for Mary. After breakfast, her father
went to the telephone to call Sister Madeline, Mrs. Selwyn's sister.
Mary breathlessly told her aunt of the great surprise and promised to go
out to Maryvale on the early afternoon train. Then she went to look
after her pets. Snowball must have a saucer of milk. Dick needed seed,
fresh water, and a bit of apple. There was a trip to the garden for some
crisp lettuce leaves for her pretty white rabbits, Snowdrop and
Snowflake, which she had found, Easter morning, guarding a big nestful
of gaily-colored eggs under the lilac bush. She had learned, too, that
they were very fond of clover, and it took some time to gather enough
for two hungry bunnies. But Mary had found the spots in the big,
old-fashioned yard, where the clover grew thickest; and when she
returned to Snowflake and Snowdrop, she had a handful for each. After
watching them nibble at it for some minutes, she ran down to the barn
where Tom, Aunt Mandy's grandson, was busy with the horses.

"Good mawnin', Miss May-ree! Good mawnin'!" he cried, smiling all over
his jolly black face. "It 'pears to me yo' is a li'l late dis mawnin'."

"Oh, don't you know why, Tom? Haven't you heard about my new little
sisters? You can't begin to think how happy I am."

"Dat's what we all is, Miss May-ree; we sho'ly is dat! I reckon yo'
won't be comin' down to de barn ebery mawnin' aftah dis wif sugah lumps
fo' _ma_ pets, he! he! he!"

"Indeed I shall, Tom. I didn't forget them _this_ morning, in spite of
the s'prise, so why should I on other mornings," and Mary drew a handful
of loaf sugar from her pocket.

"Dem hosses would be powahful hurt ef'n yo' did, Miss May-ree. See ole
Fanny watchin' yo'? She knows persackly what yo' has fo' her, she sho'ly
does. Dey's in de bestest humor dis mawnin' same's de res' ob us, I
reckon."

Tom stood near to see that no harm should come to the little girl while
she placed lump after lump of sugar on the palm of her hand and let the
horses take them.

"Yo' pa jes' done told me dat Liza am gwine to fotch yo' out to see yo'
Aunt May-ree dis aftahnoon, and fo' me to be ready to dribe yo' all to
de ferry torreckly aftah lunch. Which one ob dem hosses does yo' want me
to dribe, Miss May-ree?"

"Whose turn is it, Tom?"

"I doan' 'membah which one, Miss May-ree. Dey wuz bofe out yeste'day and
de day befoah--"

"I think we ought to take both of them to-day, Tom. This is such an
important day, you know, and I would not like to hurt the feelings of
either of them. Do you think horses have feelings, Tom? I do."

"Wal, now, Miss May-ree, I doan' know persackly what to think 'bout dat.
I reckon dey has, same's eberybody else. Ef'n yo' gib Fanny sugah lumps,
an' doan' gib Billy none, I 'lows his feelin's ud be hurt a right smaht,
I sahtinly does! But yo' pa done told me to tek de runabout and one
hoss; so you see, one ob dem hab jes' natchelly _got_ to stay home."

"W--ell, if you can't remember, Tom,--oh, I know how we can fix it!
Drive Fanny when you take us _to_ the ferry, and Billy when you come
after us this evening."

"Dat's de ticket, Miss May-ree! Dah's Liza on de back porch. Wondah what
she wants now."

"I know! I know!" and Mary flew up the walk.

"Aunt Mandy done told me to fotch yo' in, honey, kase yo' ma's awake now
an'----"

But Mary waited to hear no more. Through the hall and up the stairs to
her mother's room, she flew on tiptoe. Such a happy quarter of an hour
as followed while she told her mother just a few of the plans she had
made to show the dear babies how glad she was to have them.

"Are you going to dedicate them to Blessed Mother, too?" she asked; for
she herself had, as a tiny baby, been placed under the special
protection of the Mother of God, with the promise that she should wear
our Lady's colors, blue and white, until her seventh birthday. She had
been born in May, the month of our Lady, and had been named "for Blessed
Mother first and Aunt Mary second," as she told those who asked about
it. Though Mrs. Selwyn knew that her little girl never tired of hearing
stories of the Blessed Virgin, she was somewhat surprised when, on
Mary's last birthday, the child had asked, "Will you take me to church,
please, Mother? It is about the promise, you know. Will you make it
again for me? I can't bear to stop wearing Blessed Mother's colors just
because I am seven years old. My new white dress with the pink ribbons
on it is lovely; but I like blue better."

"I thought you must be tired of blue, dear," her mother had replied, "so
I put pink ribbon on the new dress for a little change. But it makes me
very happy to know that you love our Blessed Mother so much, and we
shall go at once to renew the promise for another seven years."

"I think we had better make it for always and always, Mother, for I know
I shall never wish to wear any other colors."

And now, in answer to her question about Berta and Beth, her Mother
said, "We shall dedicate Beth to our Blessed Mother, and Berta to the
Sacred Heart."

"O Mother, that will be lovely! Then Beth will wear blue and white as I
do; and Berta, red and white. But I s'pose they will have everything all
white while they are such teeny, weeny babies. We won't have to tie red
and blue ribbons on them to know them apart, will we, because they
don't look one bit alike. Do you know which is which, Aunt Mandy?"

"Does I know which am which, honey! Kotch ole mammy mekin' a 'stake
'bout dese yeah li'l bressed lambs! Does yo' want to see de li'l toes
dey has, honey?"



CHAPTER III.

A VISIT TO MARYVALE.


When the gong sounded for luncheon, Mary, ready for her visit to her
aunt, ran down to the dining-room. Her father and uncle were already
there. Standing before them, she turned slowly around.

"Do you think I will do? Liza says she has never had any practice in
dressing little girls to go visiting. Mother always tells Aunt Mandy
what I am to wear; but we had so many other things to talk about this
morning that neither of us thought of it. So Liza and I had to decide."

"I think you have both shown very good taste," said Mr. Selwyn, smiling.
He wondered whether either of the babies would ever make a prettier
picture than this sweet little daughter, who looked like some dainty
flower in her simple white dress of dotted mull with pale blue ribbons
run through the neck, sleeves, and around the waist.

"We couldn't quite decide about my hat. Liza thinks I ought to wear my
straw one to keep the sun off, because my parasol is not very big, you
know; but I like my new linen one best, because Mother made it. Anything
she makes is _so_ much nicer than what she buys in the stores.
Seven-year-old things are too large, and sixes are too small; but she
always makes things just exactly right; and she doesn't say, 'You don't
mean to tell me _that_ child is seven years old!' Mother put a big blue
bow on my white parasol to match the one on the hat, and I would so like
to show both of them to Aunt Mary. Sometimes, I am almost certain that
she is laughing to herself when I tell her that Mother made this or
that; and I am sure I can't see why."

"You could, pet, if your memory would carry you back to the days of
Mother's first attempts at sewing," laughed the Doctor. "She married
young--just after she had finished school. Our parents died when she and
I were quite small. Aunt Mary was our big sister, and looked after us
and things in general. She thought that Mother had enough to do with her
studies and music, so did not try to teach her sewing and other very
useful things. Mother should have saved the first little frocks she
made for you; and you would see that Aunt Mary has good reason to laugh,
not at the pretty things Mother makes now, but at those which they
remind her of. So by all means, wear the linen hat. It will be cooler
and lighter on your head; and as Aunt Mary will send the wagonette to
the station, you will not be exposed to the sun. Liza will take a large
parasol to shade both of you while you are driving to the ferry."

Mary was glad when the warm, dusty ride on the train came to an end.

"There is the wagonette, Liza, and Aunt Mary has let all the girls who
are staying at the convent for vacation come to meet us. Oh, I don't see
how they can stay away from their fathers and mothers like that!"

"I reckon dey has to, honey. 'Tain't ebery li'l gal has a home lak yo'
has. Dey cud be in a lots wuss place dan May-reevale, whar dey has de
Sistahs tekin' keer ob dem an' plenty ob room fo' to play outdoahs an'
all sech lak."

The little girl was warmly greeted by her friends.

"Guess the grand s'prise I had this morning," she said as she and Liza
took their places in the wagonette.

"Why, your beautiful new doll, of course," cried the children, gazing
with longing eyes at Annette, whom Mary had brought with her.

"Oh, no, not Annette. Uncle brought her to me yesterday. Would you like
to hold her, Effie? The s'prise I mean is a million times grander."

"A--a pony!" ventured one little girl, thinking wistfully of her own pet
in distant Texas.

"A big box of candy!" cried five-year-old Effie.

"Give us a little hint, Mary. Every time you come out here you have just
had some grand surprise, so I should think there could not be much left
to surprise you with," declared Dora, one of the older children, who sat
beside our little girl.

"Yes, Dora, I think we are a very s'prising family. Father and Uncle are
always doing something to s'prise Mother and me, and then we think up
something for them. But this one--well, I know you can never, never
guess it, so I shall tell you. I have the two dearest, darlingest, baby
sisters in the whole world!"

"Twins! Oh, what are their names?" was the eager chorus.

"Roberta after Father, and Elizabeth after Mother; but we shall call
them Berta and Beth until they grow up. Oh, I'm _so_ happy!"

"You _are_!" said a pouty-looking little girl. "Dear, me! I should think
you would _ever_ so much rather be an only child."

Mary looked puzzled.

"Rather be an only child!" she echoed. "Why, Lucille, are you an only
child?"

"Indeed I am not! I have three brothers and two sisters."

"How lovely! I have two little brothers in heaven, and I have been so
lonely without them. But now, I shall never be lonely again. Anyone who
knows how it feels to be an only child, would never like to be one."

"I would be willing to take the risk. I'm sick and tired of having to
share everything I get with the whole family. Oh, you needn't look like
that, Mary! You always have everything you wish for--whole carloads of
it,--and I must say you are generous with your things. Before I would
let a baby like Effie hold such a beautiful doll! But you can afford to
be generous when you know that your father or mother or that grand uncle
of yours will give you something better."

"But--but, Lucille," the look of wonder on Mary's face deepened, "you
don't really mean that you would rather have all the toys and candy and
everything all by yourself than have brothers and sisters to share them
with? Oh, I am sure you can't mean _that_!"

"You will know what I mean well enough three or four years from now when
those little sisters of yours cry for everything nice you have. But, no,
you won't know! As I say, for everything you give away, you will get
something better."

"As if Mary thinks of such a thing!" said Dora, hotly, putting her arm
about the little girl. "You wouldn't be happy unless you were dividing
up with someone; would you, Mary?"

Mary flashed her a grateful smile.

"I think that is why I have been so lonely sometimes, Dora. There is not
much fun playing with dolls all by myself; for no matter how hard I
pretend that they hear what I say, I know all the time that they don't.
But my little sisters will hear me, and pretty soon they will be able
to talk and play with me."

Then the wagonette turned in at the convent gates and rolled up the wide
driveway to the front steps.

"Now, Miss May-ree, yo' go 'long in an' see yo' Aunt May-ree an' de
Sistahs, an' I'se gwine obah yondah undah dat big tree an' wait fo'
yo'."

"But won't you come in, too, Liza? Aunt Mary and the Sisters will be
glad to see you, I know."

"I'll see dem byme-by, honey."

Mary ran up the broad, high steps and in at the open doorway, intending
to surprise her aunt; but Sister Madeline had heard the wagonette
approaching, and was waiting to greet the little girl.

"What a pretty hat! Has Uncle Frank been making you a present?"

"He brought me this lovely doll yesterday, Aunt Mary, but not the hat.
Mother made that," and though the child looked closely at her aunt, she
could see no twinkle in the dark eyes.

Had that little bird of which Aunt Mandy had so often spoken, been
hopping about on the window sill at luncheon time, and could it be
possible that it had flown out to Maryvale to chirp a warning note close
to Sister Madeline's ear?

"Let me take your hat and parasol. You have your hands full with that
beautiful dollie. We shall go to the east parlor, for it is the coolest
spot in the house on a warm day."

"I just brought Annette with me to show her to you before I pack her
away. I don't care so much about dolls now that I have some really,
truly, live babies to play with. O Aunt Mary! I do wish that we could
have brought them, too. They are just too sweet for anything!" Mary
looked around to be sure that no one was near, then whispered, "They are
_not_ very pretty,--Annette, this doll, is _ever_ so much prettier,--but
they are darling, anyway. Aunt Mandy thinks they are beautiful babies,
but--but they squeeze their faces all up and cry. Uncle says that they
will improve with age; but I don't want them to grow old--I want them to
stay little even if they are ug--not very pretty."

"But don't you intend to play with your dollies any more? You spoke of
putting them away."

"Dolls! Indeed, no, Aunt Mary! Not when I have two little sisters to
play with. I am going to wash and iron all my doll clothes, and dress
every doll in her best things, and put them all away in my toy box.
Then, I shall close the big doors of my doll house; and the very minute
that Berta and Beth are big enough to play, everything will be ready for
them. The only things that worry me are Snowball and Snowdrop and
Snowflake."

"Dear, dear! What lovely cool names for warm weather! But why should you
worry about your kitten and rabbits? Are you afraid that they may be
jealous of the babies?"

"No, Aunt Mary; but they will grow bigger and bigger and be too large
for the babies to hold; or maybe they might die just as my little black
kitten did. Liza said I killed it with kindness; but I can't see how
that could be."

"If anything happens to your pets, Uncle will find some new ones for
you, never fear. I would not be at all surprised to hear that he had
made you a present of a little white elephant. Now, I am sure that you
will enjoy telling the Sisters whom you know best all about those dear
little sisters----"

"Why, you don't mean to say that you haven't told them _yet_, Aunt
Mary!"

"Not a word. I thought you would like to surprise them. But if you had
not come out to see us this afternoon, I must confess that I could not
have kept the secret over night."

Presently Sister Austin, Sister Dominic, and several others whom Mary
knew very well came in to see her, and heard all about Berta and Beth.
Then, while Sister Madeline had a little visit with Liza, Sister Austin
went with Mary to the garden. The little girl's love of flowers made her
a great favorite with Mr. Daniel, as she insisted on calling the
gardener; and the old man always stopped his work to give her a ride
around the garden in his wheelbarrow, which he first lined with a clean
newspaper. But to-day, Mary felt that she could not delay long enough
for her ride, and carefully explained to Dan the reason why she must
hurry home.

"Aunt Mandy promised to let me sing them to sleep to-night; and I must
sing all the songs first to Mother, so she can tell me which one will be
best. I like _Sleep Little Baby of Mine_ and _Sweet and Low_; but my
little sisters may prefer something else, and Mother will surely know."

So she waited only long enough for Dan to cut the flowers which he
insisted on sending to Mrs. Selwyn. As the beautiful roses fell beneath
his shears, Mary caught up a tiny red rosebud.

"This will be for Berta; and do you think, Mr. Daniel, that you have a
little blue flower for Beth? Oh, I know just the thing! A _white_
rosebud!"

On the way back to the playground for a promised romp with the girls,
she spied some chickens, hatched only a few days before.

"Baby things are so dear--baby flowers, baby chickens, baby everything;
but baby sisters are the dearest of all, Sister."



CHAPTER IV.

MARY'S PLAN.


During the following weeks, Mary was a very, very busy little girl. She
had a wash day on the back porch when the suds flew in every direction,
and Snowball fled upstairs to escape a bath not meant for her. The
ironing was not so easy; but with help from the laundress on tucks and
lace-trimmed ruffles, it was at last finished. The dolls themselves had
their smiling faces well scrubbed with the nail brush, and their curls
combed and brushed, after which they were dressed in their Sunday best
and carefully laid in the big oak box which had been made for this
purpose.

Next, Mary put her games in order and piled the boxes on the lowest
shelf of her own little bookcase in her playroom; and then she sorted
her books, putting all those which had only pictures and no reading
matter in them on the shelf above the games; the A, B, C books and
nursery rhymes on the one above that; and the story books, which she
thought the twins would not use for some time, on the top shelf.

She did not finish her task until the Saturday before school opened, for
there were many other things to be done every day. She could not neglect
her pets nor her own little flower garden which she herself had dug and
raked and hoed and planted with seeds, bulbs, and slips which Dan had
given her. Every day, she chose the fairest blossoms to place before her
mother's beautiful statue of our Blessed Lady.

But by far the greater part of her time was spent with her mother and
little sisters. Each morning found her laying out the fresh clothing
needed for the twins after their bath. Then she made ready their little
beds, and Aunt Mandy always let her hold first one baby and then the
other for a few minutes before tucking them in for their nap. It seemed
to Mary a very strange hour to go to sleep. She thought every one ought
to be quite wide awake by that time of the morning; but she had learned
on the first day of her little sisters' lives that there is a great
difference between babies and big girls of seven, just as there is
between seven-year-olds and grown-ups.

The first of September came all too quickly. The thought of leaving the
darling babies for five hours which she must spend at school every day
made her wish that her mother would teach her at home as she had done
the winter before. Not that Mary disliked school. The few months in the
spring, which she had spent at a convent day school, had been such happy
ones that she had been really sorry when school closed, and, until the
babies came, had longed for September so that she might again sit at her
little desk with Sister Florian smiling down at her and ever so many
classmates with whom to romp at recess.

But now things were very different; and as she lay in her little brass
bed the night before school opened, she wondered how her mother and Aunt
Mandy could very well spare her during those long hours at the academy.
Only that day, her mother had made her very happy by saying that she did
not know what they would do without her. Since that was the case, Mary
felt quite sure that it would be much better to have lessons with her
mother.

She had done so well the winter before that, when she began to attend
school, she was put in a class which had finished the First Reader
before Easter and was just beginning the Second. During the summer, she
had read all the lessons in that book, going to her mother for help with
words that she could not quite make out. She had a habit of reading
aloud even when alone, so that Mrs. Selwyn, passing from room to room,
was often able to correct words which the child did not pronounce
properly. The little girl laughed softly at the memory of one of her
mistakes. She was reading a story of a little queen of England, and was
calling one man in it the "Duck of Cucumbers." Her mother entered the
room just in time to hear the dreadful mistake; and Mary soon saw that
her duck was a duke--the Duke of Cumberland. From that time, she was
more careful, for she knew that she would not like her father to be
called a duck if he were a duke.

Yes, she was quite sure that she could do just as well, or even better,
with her lessons at home if--and this was the important point--her
mother had time to teach her. This thought had kept her from talking the
matter over with her mother as she was in the habit of doing. She knew
that the care of two babies takes a great deal of time and that her
mother needed rest, too, when they were asleep. But what of her father
and uncle? They could help her in the evenings. The Doctor often asked
her to read to him after dinner, and why could she not read the lessons
in the Third Reader?--for Mary had quite made up her mind that the
Second Reader was much too easy for a school book. Sometimes, too, he
teased her about the "tootums table." Yes, her uncle would surely help
her with reading and number work, and her father with Catechism and
spelling. She would slip down stairs to ask them before she went to
sleep, and then surprise her mother with the plan in the morning.

Waiting only long enough to put on her pretty blue kimono and slippers,
she crept from her room and down the stairs to the library, where the
two men sat smoking.

"Why, pet, what is the matter? are you ill?" her father asked anxiously
as he took her on his knee.

"Oh, no, Father! It would never do for me to get sick now when Mother
and Aunt Mandy are so busy with the babies. Something popped into my
head a little while ago, and I couldn't go to sleep until I had asked
you about it."

"It would not keep until morning, I suppose," laughed the Doctor.

"Of course it would keep, Uncle; but you know there is never very much
time to talk things over in the morning."

"Very true; and beginning with to-morrow, you will be almost too busy to
speak to anyone in the morning."

"Oh, I shall find time to say a few things at breakfast; but Mother will
be there, too, and this is something that she must not hear a word about
until it is all settled."

"Out with it then! You should be sound asleep by this time."

"Yes, pet, Uncle is right; so let us hear your plan quickly."

"I have been thinking for ever so long that Mother and Aunt Mandy need
me so much to help with the twins that I ought to stay home to do it.
Mother says she doesn't see how they are going to get along without me.
I can save them a great many steps, you know, and do ever so many little
things while they are doing the big ones; and if I go to school, I
shall be away at the very busiest time."

It was well that Mary did not see the twinkle in the eyes of both
gentlemen.

"But I thought you so much enjoyed going to school that you were sorry
when vacation began."

"Yes, Father, I liked it ever so much in the spring, and I s'pose it
would be the same now; but when Mother needs me, I think I ought to stay
at home to help her; don't you?"

Mr. Selwyn looked very thoughtful indeed.

"Of course, dear, Mother must have all the help she needs; but it seems
to me that it would be too bad to keep you home from school. Your
education is a very important thing, you know. Would it not be better to
engage another maid to help about the house and let Liza assist Mother
and Aunt Mandy?"

"But I don't mean that I would stop studying my lessons every day.
Sister Florian said that Mother must be a fine teacher when I could skip
Kindergarten and Primer and First Reader; but she has no time to help me
now. The thing that popped into my head is that I would ask you and
Uncle Frank to teach me in the evenings if you wouldn't mind doing it."

"Rather young to attend night school, eh, Rob? I, for one, should enjoy
teaching you, Goldilocks; but for little girls of your age, I object
strongly to night study. The morning and early afternoon are the proper
times for you to study and recite, and the evening is the time to pet
your old uncle."

"I, too, would gladly help you with your studies, but I agree with Uncle
about the proper time for such things. If there were no good schools for
you to attend, we should engage a governess for you; but such an
arrangement is not always best, either. In a schoolroom, a child learns
much from hearing the others recite, and is taught many, many things not
in books. At school, too, she has playmates of her own age. So be ready
to keep me company in the morning. I have missed by little companion
very much during these weeks of vacation. The walk to school and back
will do you good. I fear that you have been in the house entirely too
much of late."

"O Father, I was just going to ask you to have Tom drive you to your
office and drop me off at the convent. Then I wouldn't have to be away
from the darling babies _quite_ so long, you know."

"But what of us, I should like to know? Your father and I leave the
house as early as you do, and do not return until six or after in the
evening. He cannot even come home to luncheon. How about that, eh?"

"That _is_ so, Uncle, isn't it? From half-past eight to six--how many
hours is that?"

"Nine and one-half hours."

"Oh, dear, _me_! Well, if you and Father can stand it all that time, I
ought to be able to stay away during school hours."

"In wet weather, of course, Tom will drive you to and from school, but
on fine days you must be out of doors as much as possible. Then your
appetite will improve, and you will grow strong, and those rosy cheeks
which you brought from the seashore, but have since lost, will return. I
fear that you are taking the babies too seriously. Remember, dear, you
are not much more than a baby yourself."

"Why, _Father_! I am seven whole years and three whole months old!"

"Add three or four days and you will have it exactly. But in spite of
all these years, months, and days, you are our _little_ Mary and will
still be so when you are twice seven and even three times seven years
old."

"Twice seven is the same as seven twos, and three times seven is seven
threes--_then_ I shall have to fast. Surely, by _that_ time, Father, you
can't call me _little_. No one could call you and Uncle little, and I
s'pose you are about twenty-one."

"You will have to add many years to seven threes for my age. Make it
between seven fives and sixes, and Uncle's something more than seven
fours."

"'M, 'm,--then how many sevens is Mr. Conway, Father? He _looks_ almost
as old as Santa Claus."

"He was seven times eleven years old last month."

"I know! the elevens are easy up to ten times eleven. Mr. Conway is
seventy-seven; but I shall have to think about you and Uncle."

"No fair peeping into your arithmetic, young lady!" laughed the Doctor.

"That just reminds me of something. Will you please see Sister Florian
in the morning, Father, and ask her to give me a new reader?"

"Have you lost your book, or is it worn out?"

"Neither, Father. It is too easy. It is only the Second Reader, and I
can read all the lessons in it; so I think I had better have the Third;
don't you?"

"Sister Florian will be the best judge of that, pet. Are you as well up
in your other studies as you are in reading? How about number work?"

"That is the hardest thing of all, Father."

"Then it would be well to devote to that study the time when the other
children are preparing their reading; would it not?"

"Ye--es, Father, I s'pose it would."

"And remember what I have said, dear, about Berta and Beth. Just look
upon them as playmates, and Liza will attend to the many, many things
that you have been doing to help Mother. Your studies will be duties
enough for you until you are quite a little older; and all the daylight
hours when you are not in school must be spent outdoors playing with
Rosemary and those other little girls whom Mother said you might bring
home from school with you last spring. Their parents are friends of
ours."

"But can't I be with Mother and the babies at _all_, Father?"

"Indeed, yes! Mother or Aunt Mandy will walk down to the convent with
the babies in their carriage to meet you every afternoon, and you may
come home the long way if you like. You will have the whole evening to
enjoy yourself in the house; and as the days grow shorter, you will not
be able to stay outdoors until dinner time."

"Oh, goody! Will they soon begin to grow shorter, Father?"

"They began to do so two months ago," was the laughing reply.

"But if I eat more at meals, may I come in about five o'clock even if it
is not getting dark?"

"Well, if you eat a _great deal_ more, I may relent a little. A child of
your age should not have it to say that she is not hungry when meal time
comes."

"Why, I do believe I am hungry right now!"

"So am I! Come, let us play 'Old Mother Hubbard' and see if Susie put
away any necks or backbones of those chickens we had for dinner," and
the Doctor caught her up and carried her off to the kitchen.

"He is almost as much a child as she is," thought Mr. Selwyn. "Strange
that her little head should be filled with such grown-up ideas and
childish notions at the same time."

But it was not really so strange as Mr. Selwyn thought; for Mary's life
had been spent for the most part among grown people, and the thoughtful
care shown by her parents and uncle for one another had taught her many
lessons of unselfishness and regard for the feelings of others. At the
same time, she loved her dolls and toys, and played wonderful games of
make believe, when she peopled her playroom with the little girls and
boys who sometimes visited her. So, if in one way, she showed a wisdom
beyond her years and behaved in a very motherly manner toward the twins,
in another, she was just a happy child of seven, quite ready to join in
the games and frolics of little children her own age, or of big children
like the Doctor.

"The cupboard will surely be bare, Uncle, for it is too warm to keep
things to eat in there now."

"We shall make believe that the icebox is the cupboard.... Oh, _my_!"

"Have you found something good? What is it?"

"Quite enough for a little spread for two. Hold this while I get these
other things," and the Doctor handed her a platter with the greater part
of a chicken on it. Then, with a chuckle, he took lettuce, celery, and
fruit from the icebox.

"We shall have our spread on the kitchen table. Now for the pantry! This
reminds me of old times. I remember well the many times Aunt Mandy
caught me at the jam jar in this same old pantry."

"But surely Aunt Mandy didn't say anything to _you_ for taking it."

"Didn't she, indeed! But it was not what she _said_, but what she _did_,
that really counted. I was only a little shaver of five, though I am not
excusing myself on that account; for I grew worse with age, and treated
my friends through the pantry window. Where _is_ that bread box!--Come,
now, pull up a chair and begin. Your father does not know what he is
missing. He thinks late suppers do not agree with old folks like him;
but for young people like us--"

He was interrupted by a merry laugh from the little girl, who sat facing
the open door, and turning, he saw his sister in the doorway.

"You two rogues! I came down to find Mary, for I was afraid she was
walking in her sleep. Beth has been so restless that I have not been
able to go to bed; and after she became quiet, I stole into Mary's room
and found it empty."

"Come and have a few bites with us. You look worn out. Goldilocks came
down to plan a surprise for you, which Rob and I nipped in the bud. I
fear that she is somewhat disappointed; but you would agree with us, I
am sure."

Many a time during the latter part of October did the two men regret
that they had not granted the little girl's wish--not that their ideas
on the subject had changed in the least, but because of an event which
plunged every member of the household into intense suffering and grief.



CHAPTER V.

THE FIRST FRIDAY.


All went well during the pleasant, sunny days of September. The people
on the avenue learned to watch every morning for the tall, dark,
handsome man, carrying the tiny suit-case for the fair little companion
tripping along beside him in her simple white dress with its pale blue
ribbons; her deep blue eyes looking out from under her big shade hat;
her hair like a golden cloud, shining and glistening in the sunlight. At
the convent gate they parted--Mary waiting for a last wave from her
father after he had boarded the car at the next corner. Then she entered
the yard for a romp with her little friends before the school-bell rang.

October came; and the noon hour of the First Friday found the little
girl breathlessly mounting the front steps of her home.

"I do wish Father was home. Perhaps I can telephone and catch him at the
bank before he goes to luncheon. But no--I shall tell Mother and Uncle
Frank the secret now, and then tell Father this evening, and make two
good times of it."

Entering the hall, she called to her mother, who was coming down the
stairs, "S'prise, Mother! S'prise! Guess!"

"Judging from the way you are holding your chain, I think Sister must
have given you a little medal for being a good girl in school."

"You're warm, Mother, but not hot. Two more guesses. Remember, this is
the First Friday, and I told you what would happen to-day----"

"Is it possible that you----"

"Well, well, well! What is going on here? Something wrong with your
neck, pet? Come, let me see what ails it."

"No, no, Uncle! It is a s'prise, and you may have three guesses. Mother
was very hot just before you came in, and I am sure she knows."

"But if holding your neck with both hands has anything to do with it, I
fear that it is not a very pleasant surprise."

"I am holding my neck to hide something on my chain."

"Ah, I see. Well, I shall guess one of those tiny pencils that fit into
a small note book."

"Cold as ice! _Freezing!_ Why, that wouldn't be worth making a s'prise
about."

"Oh, it is something of value, eh?--a piece of Chinese money. The hole
in such a coin would make it an easy matter to slip it on your chain."

"Uncle! as if I would put a piece of Chinese money on a chain with the
beautiful miraculous medal you gave me when I was baptized! Only one
more guess. It is the First Friday, you know."

"You don't mean to say that you have come out on top! Hurray!" cried the
Doctor as Mary took down her hands and showed a little silver medal next
to the gold one. "That _is_ a surprise worth while!" and tossing her up
to his shoulder, he marched into the dining-room, whistling, _Hail the
Conquering Hero Comes!_

"Now, tell us all about it," he insisted when the three were seated.

"Oh, it was the most exciting morning! Everyone was almost sure that
Mildred Ryan would get the medal, because she is the smartest girl in
our class. She never has to stop to think before she spells a word; and
_tables_! she rattles them off like lightning! So we thought she would
surely get the medal, even though Sister said yesterday afternoon that
it isn't always the smartest girl who comes out ahead, but often it is
the one who _applies_ herself best. I didn't know what Sister meant
until recess, and then Rosemary said that she meant the girl who sticks
and sticks and _sticks_ at her lessons, and doesn't sit nibbling her
pencil and looking out the window. Mildred does that sometimes, so maybe
Sister thinks she doesn't apply herself.

"Well, just after recess this morning, Father Lacey came into our room
to call the reports. We stood up and said, 'Good _morn_--n--ing,
Father!' I am _so_ glad it _was_ morning; for no matter how late in the
afternoon it is, some of the girls always forget and say, 'Good
_morning_,' to visitors; and I do feel so sorry for Sister. Then we sat
down again, and Father Lacey began to call the names. Each girl stood up
when he said her name and listened to her marks, and then she made a
step-back bow and sat down again.

"I thought my turn would never come. Sister writes the names beginning
with A first, then those beginning with B, and so on. Of course, the X,
Y, Z's come at the end of the list. There are no T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z's
in our room, so my name is the very last one. I stood up when I heard
it; but I was so excited that I didn't hear a single mark, and I forgot
all about my step-back bow; but I jumped up again and made it. The next
minute, I heard my name again, and I thought I must be dreaming until
Father Lacey called it _again_ and held up the medal. And what do you
_think_! What _do_ you think! The medal had a yellow ribbon on it!
_Yellow!_ Oh, I didn't know what to do! I _couldn't_ let Father Lacey
pin a yellow ribbon on _me_ when I never wear any colors but blue and
white. But he didn't know that, and I s'pose Sister forgot about it. And
all the time, Father Lacey sat there smiling and holding out the medal;
and the girls whispered, 'Go up! Go up!' and the one behind me gave me
the worst poke; and--and _then_ I thought of my chain!

"So I took it off and walked just as fast as I could up the aisle; but I
stood far enough away from Father Lacey so he just couldn't reach me to
pin that yellow ribbon on me. I couldn't speak a word, but stood there
holding out the chain to him. Then Sister remembered and told him; and
he took the medal off the ribbon and slipped it on the chain and
fastened the chain around my neck himself and patted me on the head and
said for me always to love our Blessed Mother next best to our Lord. And
then the girls clapped, and I was so happy that I couldn't see where I
was going and nearly fell over the front desk."

"You did, indeed, have a very exciting morning, dear," laughed Mrs.
Selwyn.

"Times have certainly changed, Elizabeth. In our day, the worst part of
prize winning was the work one had to do, not the walking up the aisle
to receive the reward of one's labors."

"But that was later on in school life, Frank. The first time my name was
called for a prize, I think I felt very much as Mary did this morning."

"It wouldn't have been so bad if we had not been so sure that Mildred
would get the medal. Still, I believe it would have been more exciting;
because then everyone in the class could hope that she _might_ get it.
But no one had any hope, because Mildred is so smart. Poor thing! She
was in school only until Christmas last year; for after that, she was
very sick, and the doctor wouldn't let her come back."

"She must be a very bright little girl to be able to go on with her
class after missing more than a half year's work."

"Oh, no, Mother, she had to stay in the same class, and she was so
disappointed."

"Then the work you are doing now is not new to her," said the Doctor.
"Small wonder that she is able to rattle off her tables and spell all
the words without any trouble! She would have good reason to be ashamed
of herself if she could not do so. Sister Florian's ideas on the subject
seem to be the same as mine; so you may leave Mildred out of the race
until she begins new work after Christmas."

"You mean, Uncle, that we all have just as good a chance for the medal
as Mildred has?"

"A better chance, Mary."

"Then I am going to get it again next month."

"Don't be too sure of that," warned Mrs. Selwyn.

"But I did it once, Mother, so why can't I do it again? I wasn't
thinking of the medal, either, when I studied my lessons. I just studied
so I would know them."

"That is the best way to do and the surest way to win the prize.
Sometimes, little girls work themselves up to a great pitch over a
reward; and if they do not win it, they are almost sick over their
failure."

"Dear, me, how silly! As if they couldn't try again, Mother. Mildred
didn't act that way. She seemed not to mind it a bit."

"Sister probably explained to her that she could not expect to get the
medal until after Christmas."

"Well, next month when Father Lacey comes to call the reports, I shall
be all ready with my chain in my hand in case I get it again. Then I
will not have to keep him waiting."

"You can save yourself that trouble by putting a blue ribbon on the
medal when you return it to Sister at the end of this month," advised
the Doctor, his eyes twinkling.

"And have Sister think that I expect to get it? Why, Uncle!"

"But you _do_ expect to get it again, do you not? So why try to hide
your feelings?"

"I don't exactly _expect_ to get it, but I _hope_ I shall; and I mean to
work harder than ever."

"The medal shows that you have worked quite hard enough, pet. Better
slow up a little and give some other girl a chance. Suppose you eat your
luncheon. You have not tasted a morsel. This excitement is too much for
you," declared the Doctor, noting the child's bright eyes and flushed
face.

Having finished his own meal, he went around the table and took her
hand.

"You have really earned a half holiday. Take a long nap and have a nice
quiet time with the babies this afternoon. Quite feverish," he added in
an undertone to his sister.

"A half holiday! Why, Uncle, you must be joking! Don't you know that we
lose our marks when we stay home from school? Besides, I have been head
of the class in spelling for a whole week; and if I don't miss this
afternoon, I shall get a beautiful holy picture."

"I shall bring you a whole package of beautiful pictures this evening if
you do as I say. A little girl who has held first place in spelling for
a week deserves more than _one_ picture."

"But--but, Uncle, it wouldn't be quite the same."

"I know exactly how Mary feels about it, Frank. I think you had better
let her go to school. The afternoon is short, and she will go to bed
early to-night and take a long sleep in the morning. By that time the
excitement will have worn off."

"Well, see that she eats something before she goes back, Elizabeth. I
must be off."



CHAPTER VI.

A LITTLE CROSS.


At three o'clock, Mary joined Aunt Mandy and her little sisters at the
convent gate. The old nurse watched her in surprise as she came down the
walk, her feet lagging instead of skipping and dancing in their usual
manner. However, Aunt Mandy said nothing until Mary made no offer to
push the baby carriage, a thing which she had never failed to do.
Instead, she asked if she might put her little suit-case in the
carriage.

"What's de mattah, honey chile? Did de Sistah done gib ma bressed lamb a
scoldin' dis aftahnoon?"

"No, Aunt Mandy, she gave me a lovely holy picture of Blessed Mother for
staying at the head of the class in spelling all week. I am just
tired--that's all--my arms and every bit of me. It is so warm that my
head aches."

"_Wahm_, honey! Why, dis yeah chile had to go back in de house to git
her li'l shawl. It's a right putty day on de sunny side ob de street,
but mighty chilly in de shade. Did yo' eat de apple and de li'l
sandwiches what yo' ma done gibbed yo' fo' recess? Yo' nebah teched
nuffin fo' lunch."

"I couldn't eat them, Aunt Mandy, but I took three drinks of water and
three more on my way out just now. I have been so thirsty all day."

"Huh! I done told yo' ma dat all dis book larnin' ud be de def ob yo'
yet. De bery idea ob sendin' a li'l gal lak yo' is to school!"

"Why, Aunt Mandy, there are ever so many little girls younger than I am
at the convent. Some of them are only five."

"Laws a massy! Why, honey, dey's nuffin but babies! _Babies!_ An' dat's
all yo' is yo' own self. Wait twell yo's as ole as I is, honey chile.
Eben yo' ma seems lak a li'l gal to me. 'Tain't no time sence I done
toted her round in ma ahms same's I'se doin' now wif dese yeah bressed
lambs. I nebah had no book larnin', t'ank de good Lawd! an' I'se libbed
longah dan mos' folks what did, an' I 'spects to keep on libbin' fo' a
long time yit, I sahtinly does! Ma muddah an' gran'muddah bofe wuz moah
dan a hund'ed an' ten when dey ups and died on ma hands. Yo'
great-gran'muddah wah eighty; but sho', dat's nuffin! I'se past sebenty
ma own self. Nebah yo' mind, honey, we's gwine to be home soon, an' den
yo' kin go to bed an' git a good sleep. Hol' on to ma ahm, honey chile.
Dat'll holp a li'l."

Aunt Mandy made up her mind then and there to give Mrs. Selwyn some
advice on the school question. She had been a servant in the family
since she was twelve years of age; and while always respectful, she
still looked on "Miss Lisbuf" and "Massa Frank" as mere children, and
did not hesitate to speak her mind freely to them.

That evening, she was at the front door to meet Doctor Carlton, who
listened kindly to her account of the homeward walk, and then hastened
up to Mary's room. One of his first questions was, "Have any of the
children in your class been absent?"

"Hazel hasn't been in school all week nor her little brother, either.
Marian has been out a few days, too."

"Hm! You play with those little girls a great deal, do you not?"

"Oh, yes, Uncle, and we sit near one another in the classroom, too; and
sometimes Sister lets us sit two in a seat to help each other."

"I see. Well, try to sleep a little while, pet," and down to the
telephone went the Doctor. He soon returned to Mary's bedside, and in
his own jolly way began, "So you are not content to follow the styles in
dress, but must take up with everything going, I see."

"_You_ know that I never bother about styles, Uncle. I just wear
whatever mother gets for me," said Mary, with a tired little smile.

"Well, you are very much in style just now. I have been talking with
Mrs. Burns and Mrs. Lee, and they tell me that Hazel and her brother and
Marian have measles."

Mary gave a pitiful cry.

"And I have them, too, Uncle? And will I have to be sent away somewhere?
But I will go--I will do anything to keep the darling babies from
catching them, and--and--don't let Mother come _near_ me! I want
her--oh, I do want her! but she mustn't come on account of the babies."

"There, there, pet, you haven't the small-pox! Who has said anything
about sending you away? Of course, Mother must not be with you, just as
you say, nor Aunt Mandy, either; but Father and I shall come in to see
you very often----"

"But you might carry the measles to the babies----"

"Oh, we shall go out and run around the block after our visits to you;
so don't worry any more about it. I shall get the very best nurse I
know. All my little patients who have had her to take care of them, love
her very much."

"But can't I be moved to the little back room so as to be as far away
from the babies as I can be?"

"An idea popped into my head as I came up from the telephone. I am glad
now that Mother insisted on giving the third floor a house-cleaning two
weeks ago, though, at the time, I did not enjoy being ordered to clear
out my old den up there. That big front room had been my private
property since my twelfth birthday, and the treasures which I had
hoarded there would make a junkman happy. Of course, I had not been near
the room for years, and it was high time that I should put things in
order. So I spent several evenings destroying more than I saved.

"Out of curiosity, I went up there last Sunday, and what do you think?
But I suppose you have seen it for yourself. I thought I was in the
wrong house when I saw my old den dressed up in pale blue walls and
white woodwork. It seems to me that is the very room in which to get
over measles quickly, and you will have no reason to worry about the
babies. The third floor is not an attic, you know, though it has always
been used for storing away old things. It is what is called a mansard
roof."

"I wouldn't mind if it _were_ an attic, Uncle. I should much rather live
in an attic all my life than have any harm come to the babies."

"I am sure you would, pet. Now, I shall send Debby to dust and air the
room, and you may lie on the couch in my room while Tom and I carry up
your bed."

In less than a half hour, the little patient was comfortably settled in
the "hospital," as the Doctor playfully called his old den. He had the
next room fitted up for the nurse; but as she could not come before
morning, he occupied it himself that night.

It was a great surprise to the little girl when, just after breakfast
the next day, he ushered the nurse into the room. Mary had expected a
white-gowned, white-capped young lady--not a smiling, rosy-cheeked,
little Sister, wearing a big white apron over her black habit and a
long, pale blue veil.

"You wear our Blessed Mother's colors, too; don't you, Sister?" was
Mary's first remark after she and Sister Julia had been introduced.

"Oh, by the way, Sister," the Doctor paused in the doorway, "there is
one thing of great importance which I must ask you to remember, please.
Any colors but blue and white have a very bad effect on this
patient--yellow in particular. Please see that she closes her eyes while
you give her the medicine and, above all, orange-ade. A few drops of
wash-bluing in the water might help matters," and he was gone before
Mary could say a word.

The little girl soon learned to love her nurse very much; and, though
she sorely missed her mother, Sister Julia's beautiful stories kept her
from becoming too lonely.

"No wonder your little patients love to have Sister Julia take care of
them, Uncle," she said that evening when he came up to sit with her
while the nurse went to her dinner. "I could lie here all day and
listen to her stories--_true_ stories about our Lord and Blessed Mother
and the Saints, and about children she has taken care of--some of them
so poor that they didn't have enough to eat or clothes to keep them
warm. But Sister knows a good, kind doctor who took care of them while
they were sick and gave them medicine and fruit all for nothing; and he
told the Saint Vincent de Paul Society about them; so they are getting
along better now.

"I am going to ask Mother not to buy that blue velvet coat and hat for
me that she was looking at when we were down town last Saturday, but to
give the money to some poor family instead. The white ones I had last
winter are perfectly good, and Mother can have them dyed if she would
like me to have blue things this year. They can dye white any color, you
know. Hazel has a beautiful red dress trimmed with tiny, black velvet
ribbon; and when I told her how pretty it is, she said that it is an old
white tennis skirt of her mother's dyed. There is another thing that I
would like to do; but I don't know--would you--do you mind what I do
with that five dollar gold piece you gave me for my birthday, Uncle?"

"Do I mind, pet? Of course I do not mind! You are to do exactly what you
please with that money. I gave it to you just to see what you _would_ do
with it. You have never handled any money of your own, except a few
pennies."

"But I didn't need to buy anything when you and Father were always
giving me things--even pretty pencils for school. But there is something
that I would like to buy now. You can tell me whether it is just the
best thing to get for those poor, sick children. I might have asked
Sister Julia, but she was reading her prayer book when I thought of it."

"Let me hear what you have in mind for them."

"I think it would be nice to send each of them a little blooming plant.
It would last ever so much longer than cut flowers, and they could watch
it grow and see the new flowers come out. See that chrysanthemum on the
window sill? Mr. Daniel at Maryvale sent it in to me this morning; and
the sun made two buds blossom right out."

"It is a beautiful plant. I have been wondering where it came from, but
you have not given me a chance to ask. As for your little plan, it is
an excellent one and will make several little folks, who never see so
much as a dandelion, very happy indeed."

Thinking of others who had never known the blessings with which her own
life was overflowing, and planning with her father and uncle to bring a
little sunshine into their cheerless homes, Mary did not find the days
of her illness so very, very long. She was doing so well that everyone
in the house was looking forward to having her once more among them; and
she herself was counting the hours until she could again be with her
mother and little sisters.



CHAPTER VII.

THE SHADOW FALLS.


"I s'pose the twinnies have grown ever so much, Father," she remarked
one evening when she was able to sit up in a big arm chair.

"Well, I have not seen Mother letting out any tucks or hems in their
dresses; but," and Mr. Selwyn's eyes danced, "I must admit that they are
somewhat better-looking."

Surely, the little bird _must_ have been at Maryvale that day, and Mary
thought it very strange that she had not caught a glimpse of it. She had
seen some sparrows, robins, and thrushes; but she was quite sure that
the particular little bird of which Aunt Mandy had so often spoken was
different from any of these. It certainly had very large ears to be able
to hear what she had _whispered_ to her aunt when they were sitting at
such a distance from the window. She started at a thought which came to
her.

"Father, have you ever seen the little bird that tells Aunt Mandy so
many things? Do you think it can hear what a person is just _thinking_
about?"

Mr. Selwyn coughed to hide a smile.

"No, dear, I have never seen that particular little bird; and no one but
God knows our thoughts unless we show them in our faces or actions."

"Please take me on your lap, Father, and tell me more about the babies.
Has Beth any hair yet?"

"Only a little soft, yellow down; but Berta's is actually beginning to
turn up at the ends in tiny, silky curls."

"Oh, she must look darling! Just forty-eight hours more--no,
forty-seven, because it is exactly an hour since Uncle was here--and I
can see them both again."

"So Uncle Frank said at dinner. That reminds me--here is a note for you
from Mother."

"Please read it to me, Father. I can't read writing very well, though
Mother tries to make hers plain. Besides, Uncle has asked me not to look
closely at anything until my eyes are stronger. They have been so weak
that I had to ask Sister to keep the shades down. But she thought it
would be too bad to shut out the sunshine; so sometimes she bandaged my
eyes and let the shades roll all the way up to the top.

"Then we played a game something like the little boy who was half-past
three played with his grandmother, only ours was _Blind Man's Buff_. Of
course, I couldn't go catch Sister, but I tried to guess where she was;
and when I guessed right, she was 'it.' Then I would _pretend_ that I
was somewhere, and Sister had to guess. She had a much harder time than
I had, because I could pretend to be up the chimney or on top of the
wardrobe or in ever so many places where I knew she couldn't be when _I_
was 'it.' But please read Mother's letter. She has written to me every
day since I came up here," and the little girl snuggled close to her
father while he read the following:

     My Darling,

     Uncle has just told us the good news. It will not do you any harm
     now to know how much we have missed you. Aunt Mandy said to me
     to-day that she cannot understand how you always succeeded in
     putting the babies to sleep when she failed to do so; but I think I
     know the secret.

     The babies are growing more cunning every day. Two or three days
     ago, Beth discovered that she has fingers; and this morning when I
     was dressing her, she kicked up one little foot and caught hold of
     her toes. Then I found Berta holding on to both ears. But I must
     not tell you all the surprises we have for you.

     I have gone into your room very often. It makes me think of a
     pretty nest from which the little bird has flown. But the wings of
     my little bluebird are not strong enough to carry her very far
     away, so she is coming back to the nest again. I shall give Father
     a kiss and a hug to carry to my birdie away up in the treetop.

     MOTHER.

"And here are a kiss--and a hug--to carry down to Mother; but before you
give them to her, you must walk around the block to let the wind blow
the measles off of you."

"There, there, dear, you must not exert yourself so much. You are not
quite strong enough to give such bear hugs."

"Well, well, well! Not in bed yet? I was almost sure that I heard you
snore as I came upstairs."

"Uncle! I am going to ask Sister Julia if I snore when I am asleep."

"You certainly do not do so while you are awake. But perhaps it was
Snowball that I heard. She is asleep on the lowest step."

"Poor little Snowball! I do hope Debby is taking good care of her. Is
she very black, Uncle?"

"Who? Debby or the kitten?"

"Why, the kitten, of course. Debby is s'posed to be black, but Snowball
is s'posed to be white."

"I see. Well, set your mind at rest, pet, for your kitten looks her name
to perfection, curled up as she now is. Indeed, for a moment I was on
the point of bringing her up here to wash your face and coax a little
color into it. Oh, another thing! I noticed that she has quite a jaunty
bow of ribbon on her neck. You would have the nightmare if I should tell
you what color it is."

"Every color looks pretty on Snowball. I think the ribbon must be pink,
because Debby likes pink herself. No?" as the Doctor shook his head.
"Red, then. Debby likes red, too."

"I suppose I may as well tell you. It is _yellow_! A glorious, golden
yellow."

"How lovely! Yes, Uncle, I mean it. I think yellow is a beautiful
color; but it wouldn't do for me to wear it, you know. Why, the sun and
moon and stars and Dick and ever so many of my favorite flowers are
yellow, so you can't tease me about that color."

"I am a naughty old chap to tease you about anything. Come, Rob, it is
long past her bedtime. It will be a case of

    'You can't get 'em up,
    You can't get 'em up,
    You can't get 'em up in the morning,'"

sang the jolly man.

On the way down stairs he said, "As far as the measles are concerned,
she could be with the family now; but she is weaker than I like to see
her, and the little excitement of being with the babies again would be
more than is good for her at present. So I have put her off another two
days. She will not try to exert herself as much with Sister Julia as she
would down stairs. She is getting along better, however, than I
expected, for she has had a pretty severe attack; but I have every
reason now to hope that it will leave no bad effects."

"How about her eyes? is the sight in any danger?" was the father's
anxious question.

"Not now. The disease often affects the eyes; but Sister Julia has been
very careful, and the danger is passed. We may all go to sleep to-night
with light hearts."

Ah, how little the wisest of us know! How little we suspect what the
next hour may bring!

The tick-tock----tick-tock----of the big clock at the foot of the stairs
was the only sound that broke the stillness of the night. Midnight came
and went.----One o'clock----two o'clock----a piercing scream rang
through the silent house! The Doctor, whose room was nearest the stairs,
was the first to reach the sick room. He found the little girl in the
nurse's arms, imploring her to chase away the man with the terrible
knife.

"He stuck it----into me----Uncle! 'Way, 'way into--my side! Oo! It's
there yet!--Take it out, Uncle! _please_ take it out! Oh! oh! oh!"

"There, there, darling! No, no! there is no knife. It is only a bad
dream," soothed the nurse.

"But it hurts, Sister!----Oo, oo! Ouch!----every time----I breathe. Take
it _out_! Oh, Uncle----_please_ take it _out_!"

"There is absolutely nothing there, pet,--nothing! Sister is right. You
have been lying in a cramped position which caused a pain in your side
and made you dream of the man with a knife. Lie down and let Sister rub
the place where you feel the pain."

But though the Doctor made light of the matter to the little girl, his
sister and brother-in-law saw the anxiety written in every line of his
face. Sister Julia, too, looked worried as she tried to soothe the
moaning child.

"M--Mother!"

"Yes, darling, yes!"

"It hurts so, Mother--oo!--oo! It shoots--right through me. I'm wide
awake now, Mother, so--why doesn't it go--away? Oh, oh!"

"She has been restless all night, Doctor,"--Sister Julia had left the
little girl to her mother's care for a moment--"so restless that I
disobeyed your orders about going to bed myself and remained beside her
for fear she would throw off the covering and take cold. She has not
been quiet long enough for the muscles to cramp----"

"I know, Sister, I know. I said that merely to quiet her. This is what I
have feared all along. She is a frail mite, but I really thought that
we had pulled her over the danger line. I hope it is nothing worse than
pleurisy. We shall try hot applications first. I shall be back in a
moment."

Sister Julia busied herself heating water and making other preparations;
and the Doctor soon returned with his "telephone," as Mary called the
instrument with which he had several times listened to her lungs.

"Now, dear, let me see whether I can find out just where the pain
is----"

"Oh, it is right here, Uncle! On both sides right where my hands
are--you don't need to listen--and it shoots--through me and--comes out
under those bones--where the angels' wings grow."

"But we can do more to relieve the pain if I listen for a few minutes,
pet."

The father and mother did not take their eyes off his face, which grew
more and more grave. By the time he had finished the examination, there
was little need for him to call the nurse to the bedside and motion them
into the hall.

"I shall be perfectly honest with you," he began, "for I know that you
are prepared for the worst. I fear pneumonia, but hope that we have
caught the trouble in time. I can tell you nothing definite for some
hours. The condition in which I find her now is the very one which
Sister Julia and I have been guarding against; but I was so sure that
all danger was past that I told Sister, when I came home this evening,
to change her program and, instead of going to rest at that time and
leaving Mary to us, Rob, to go to bed as soon as she had tucked her in
for the night. This she did not do, but remained at the bedside until we
came up, just as she has done every night from eleven o'clock on.

"With any other nurse, I might fear that some neglect had brought
matters to this pass; but not with Sister Julia. She is a wonderful
nurse, and we are blessed to have her, especially now. I have never lost
a pneumonia patient when she was on the case. So we shall hope for the
very best."

But though the Doctor tried to speak cheerfully, a cold fear gripped the
hearts of all.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE RUSTLE OF ANGELS' WINGS.


When daylight came, they carried Mary down to her own pretty room and
did all that science and love could suggest to relieve her sufferings;
but in spite of everything, the child grew steadily worse; and the
Doctor was at last obliged to admit that double pneumonia had set in.

"You had better bring the babies to her for a few minutes," he said to
his sister. "She has a very high fever and is liable to become
delirious. A peep at the twins will satisfy her and perhaps ease her
mind later on."

"Sweet--darling--" Mary murmured as the babies were held up before her.
"Soon--again?"

"Yes, pet, Mother will bring them to see you very often. Try to sleep
now," urged her uncle.

Oh, the long, long days and nights of suffering and grief and anxiety.
Though the twins were the delight of the household, they had not been
members of the family long enough to twine themselves about the hearts
of all as had the dear little girl who was never happier than when
making others happy. The servants vied with one another to do her some
little service. Old Susie surpassed herself with her delicious broths
and gelatines over which she spent more time than she did on the meals
for the family; Liza hurried with her other duties so as to be able to
devote more time to the babies and leave Aunt Mandy free to help Sister
Julia; Tom sat by day and night on the top step of the stairs, ready to
run errands,--a task which, by the way, he had always disliked. Even
Debby, who had known the little girl less than two months, almost sobbed
aloud at sight of the wan little face framed in a mass of golden hair.
Indeed, so blinded was she by her tears, that she stumbled about and
upset so many things that Sister Julia gently took her dust cloth from
her and finished putting the room in order. As for the father, mother,
and uncle, Mrs. Selwyn's words just after her brother had told them the
dreaded truth, will best express the thoughts that filled their minds.

"Perhaps it is wrong to feel as I do, Rob,--that it would be far easier
to lose both of our babies than our little Mary."

"You are merely speaking the thought that is in all our hearts,
Elizabeth, and it is only natural that we should feel as we do. In one
sense, the babies are just as dear to us as Mary is; but they have not
yet entered into our very life as she has done by her own winning ways.
So, if she is taken from us, we shall miss her far more than we should
either, or even both, of the twins. I doubt whether Berta or Beth could
ever quite fill the void which her loss would cause in our lives. But we
shall not think of that now. Let us hope for the best and pray that, if
it be God's will, our darling may be spared to us. We can trust Frank to
see that everything possible is done for her."

"Poor Frank! He could not love her better if she were his own child. I
have telephoned to Sister Florian to ask the prayers of the Sisters and
pupils, and, of course, I called Maryvale early this morning. Mary asked
me to let her know Frank's decision."

"I shall go now to telephone to her. Try to get a little rest before
dinner."

Alone with Mary, Sister Julia seized the chance to have a little talk
with her.

"There is one very important thing, dear, in this kind of illness, and
that is the fight which the patient herself makes."

"Fight, Sister? You mean that I must punch something the way I saw boys
doing to each other out on the sidewalk one day?"

"No, dear, I mean that you must make up your mind that you are going to
get well as soon as possible and----"

"And I am, Sister. I take my medicine even though it has a very bad
taste. I try to remember what you told me about our Lord--that they gave
Him a bitter, bitter drink when He was hanging on the cross and said, 'I
thirst.' But--but I can't help screaming sometimes when the pain is so
dreadful. I seem to forget everything then."

"Indeed, you have been very good and patient, dear; but in spite of the
pain and the bad dreams, you must say to yourself, 'I am going to be
well and strong very soon.'"

Often in the days which followed, when Mary was delirious from fever and
pain, the hearts of those at her bedside were wrung by her cry, "But I
am going to be well and strong soon, I am, I _am_!" Then she would beg
them not to let her fall into the big, black hole where wicked men were
waiting to stick long knives into her. Sometimes, she knew those about
her for a few minutes, but the greater part of the time she was not
conscious. Sister Madeline and Sister Austin came in from Maryvale to
see her; Sister Florian with a companion called several times; but the
little girl had no memory of their visits when asked later about them.
Father Lacey called one afternoon and read a Gospel over her; but she
gave no sign that she knew he was there until after he had left the
room. Then she murmured, "Sister--was Father Lacey--here?"

"Yes, dear, he has just left the room."

"I--would like--to see him,--please."

The priest, who had stopped in the hall to speak to Mrs. Selwyn,
returned and seated himself at the bedside, saying cheerily, "Do not try
to talk to me, dear child. I am glad you are awake so that I can tell
you how much all your little friends at the convent miss you. They are
praying very hard for you every day, and so are all the Sisters. Yes, I
know you wish me to thank them for you."

"Did--the girls--go to--Confession--yet, Father?"

"Yes, Mary, they made their first Confession last week."

"Mine--now?--I know--how."

"Certainly, my dear child; but you must let me do most of the talking. I
shall ask you questions, and you will just answer them," and Father
Lacey again slipped his stole about his neck as Sister Julia left the
room.

After he had said with her the _Hail Mary_ which he had given as a
penance, Mary's mind again began to wander; and when Sister Julia
returned, she was babbling of those tell-tale, little white birds with
blue heads and red tails and yellow ribbons about their necks.

"Truly an angelic little soul, Sister," said the priest. "I greatly fear
that she will not be with us long. What does Doctor Carlton say of her
condition?"

"He will not say anything, Father."

"And I suppose it is not quite the thing for you to express your
opinion. When is the Doctor at home?"

"This is the first time in several days that he has left the house,
Father. He spends the greater part of the day and night with the child.
His devotion to her is touching. I have sometimes wondered at his great
gentleness with children, even though he has several times spoken of his
small niece and repeated her quaint remarks to amuse his little
patients; but I understand it all now. If she does not recover, more
than half of his life will go out with hers. And the poor father and
mother! They have already lost two little boys, yet they are so patient
and resigned. You will have to know Mary better than you do, Father, to
understand just what her loss would mean to this home. The servants
fairly worship her. No little queen could have more faithful subjects.
It is a marvel that she is not badly spoiled."

"Her mother is too wise a woman to permit that, Sister. I admit that I
do not know the child as you do, but I have seen enough of her to feel
sure that she is all that you say of her, and that her loss would be a
great blow. I find her so well instructed that, if the Doctor thinks she
will not recover, I shall allow her to make her First Communion.[1] I
have not mentioned the matter to her, however. Speak to the Doctor as
soon as he comes in, and if he thinks that there is grave danger, let me
know when she again becomes conscious, and I shall come at once. At all
events, I shall call again to-morrow."

[Footnote 1: The decree of our late Holy Father, Pope Pius X.,
concerning the First Communion of little children, had not at this time
been issued.]

The next morning, three of the finest doctors of New York gathered with
Doctor Carlton about the sick child, sadly shook their heads, and
quietly went away. In the afternoon, the Doctor himself opened the door
for the priest and drew him into the library.

"I would have telephoned to you last evening, Father, but it was useless
to do so, for my little niece has not been conscious since your visit
yesterday. I have little hope that she will become so before--the end. I
have known from the first that she could not pull through except by a
miracle. Humanly speaking, it is now merely a question of how long her
heart can hold out."

"_Humanly_ speaking, yes, Doctor; but the days of miracles are not
passed, and He Who raised the dead to life is still the all-powerful
God. Mary became conscious yesterday just after I had read a Gospel over
her. I feel that our Divine Lord permitted it so that she might make her
first Confession for which she was preparing when she became ill. He may
permit the same thing to happen to-day so that she may make her First
Communion. I am going now to the church for the Blessed Sacrament. Ask
Sister Julia to have all in readiness when I return."

But though Father Lacey prayed long and earnestly over the little girl,
and her mother and the nurse spoke close to her ear of the happiness
awaiting her, Mary gave no sign that she understood. Then the priest
anointed her and raised the Blessed Sacrament in benediction above her;
and promising to come again the moment he should hear that she had
become conscious, he returned to the church.

The long night began. The house was very quiet, for Mary had ceased to
moan and cry out, and lay perfectly still, her breath coming in little
gasps. Close by her pillow sat the Doctor, his watch in his left hand,
the fingers of his right on the child's fluttering pulse. Across from
him knelt Sister Julia, her eyes never wavering from his haggard, gray
face as she watched for the least sign from him that something was
needed. Her lips moved in prayer as the beads slipped through her
fingers. At the foot of the bed knelt Mr. Selwyn, his arm supporting his
wife, his head bowed on the railing where Mary had so often during the
past week seen the strange little birds hopping about. Tom was at his
post at the head of the stairs; and Aunt Mandy and Liza had taken the
babies down to the kitchen so that nothing would disturb the little
sufferer.

The hours dragged on. Midnight passed. The child's breathing grew
fainter--then a great stillness fell upon the room. Mr. Selwyn looked up
with a start, and his wife clung closer to him. The Doctor had slipped
to his knees, his eyes on the still, white face. Suddenly, the little
eyelids fluttered open, the big blue eyes looked straight into Mr.
Selwyn's, then rested for an instant on the Doctor, while a wan little
smile flitted across the child's face. A faint sigh issued from her
parched lips, and her eyes closed. The Doctor raised his hand. No one
stirred. Was it life or death? Did they hear the rustle of angels'
wings, or was it the murmur of the night wind?

The father's eyes sought the Doctor's face, and soon a look of wonder
and doubt crept over it. By degrees, the wonder increased, and the doubt
disappeared, and two great tears of relief rolled down the haggard face
which turned toward Mr. Selwyn with a smile, while the warning hand
remained uplifted.

Close to the mother's ear, the father whispered just one little word;
then carried her into the next room where, some minutes later, the
Doctor joined them. Mr. Selwyn stepped out into the hall, and the next
instant, Tom, shoes in hand, was making all possible speed toward the
kitchen.

Slowly, oh, so slowly, the little girl crept back from the chill, dark
shadow into the warm, bright love-light waiting to envelope her. It
would be many and many a long day before she would be able to play with
the babies and romp with her little friends; but to those who loved her,
it was happiness enough just to have her still among them.

Several remarks that were made caused Mary quite a little surprise.

"But I tried and tried to tell you ever so many times that I was going
to get well, Mother. Didn't you hear me?"

"Yes, darling; but, for once, we did not believe you. You can hardly
blame us for that, however, when Uncle Frank and three of the finest
doctors in the city had said that you could not recover."

"Hm! I think I shall ask Uncle to take me to see those doctors some day
just to prove to them that God can make people well if He wants them to
get well."



CHAPTER IX.

A GRAVE QUESTION.


"I am sorry, Rob, that my answer is not what you wish it to be."

"But, Frank, think what a winter in Italy would mean to the child."

"Yes, if you can get her over there by wireless. But you speak of going
by steamer, and I need not remind you of the cold and dampness of an
ocean voyage at this season."

"I had not thought of that." Mr. Selwyn rose and began pacing to and
fro. "How soon _will_ Mary be equal to the trip, Frank?"

"Not before the first of June at the earliest. Her recovery, judging
from the past two weeks, will be very, very slow. Why do you take this
trip just now? Can't you put it off for six or seven months?"

"No, Frank, that is not possible. We have been waiting for this chance
to open a branch of the business in Rome, and now that it has come, we
must act promptly."

"Then let Bryce or Ryan go. Bryce has no one but himself to think of."

"His father would have been just the man to put the thing through; but
young Bryce is not his father by any means. For one thing, he does not
know the business well enough. Ryan says that he is too old to begin to
learn Italian; and as I have a fair knowledge of that language, he
thinks I should go. I made no objection, because I thought it would be a
splendid chance to take Mary away from the winter here. Do you really
think that it would be a risk, Frank?"

"So great a risk that I am almost sure you would have a burial at sea."

"_Frank!_"

"I mean it, Rob. A mere trifle would bring on a relapse; and a long sea
voyage is no trifle."

"But what are we to do? Elizabeth will never consent to my living in
Italy for a year unless she and the children can be with me."

"She is right about that. Her place is with you."

"But she cannot leave Mary----"

"Why not, Rob?--You know that I would be the last one to ask that
question if there was any other way of solving the problem; but since
there is not, why cannot Mary be left with me? I need not assure you
that she will be taken care of to the best of my ability."

"You have more than proved that, Frank. If she were your own child, you
could not show greater love for her. And she almost worships you."

"Yes, I flatter myself that I come a close second to you and Elizabeth
and the babies, and I promise to do all in my power to lessen the pain
of this separation for her. She is the one who will suffer most, for she
is not old enough to see the matter in the proper light. To us, a year
is only twelve short months which pass all too quickly; but to a child,
it is an eternity. I am sorry that this trial should come upon her now
after all that she has been through."

"That is just it, Frank,--not only for her but for all of us. It seems a
terrible thing to be separated from her now for so long a time, when we
came so near to losing her. I am sure that Elizabeth will not consent to
leave her----"

"Then Elizabeth will have to remain at home. Here she is to speak for
herself."

"What plan is afoot now, gentlemen? You look as sober as judges,"
laughed Mrs. Selwyn.

"An ocean voyage followed by a year in Italy is a subject for rather
serious thought, is it not?"

"No, indeed, Rob. I should say it is a very pleasant subject. Who among
our friends has this treat in store for him?"

"It happens that, in this case, the pleasure is not unmixed with pain."

"But is it not always so, Rob? Is there not a thread of sorrow running
through every earthly joy?"

"Yes, even our little Mary has found that out. I think I told you how
perfectly happy she was over the twins; but in less than fifteen
minutes, she found cause for sorrow in the fact that there was not a
third baby to be called Frank."

"Yes, I remember. But you have not answered my question about our
friends who are planning a trip to Europe."

"Your husband's name heads the list, Elizabeth; and it remains for you
to decide whether he will go alone, or have the company of any other
members of the family."

"You are joking, Frank."

"I was never more in earnest."

"I wish from my heart that he was joking, Elizabeth," and Mr. Selwyn
repeated some of the facts of the case.

"And are your partners aware that your wife has not only herself but
three children to get ready for this trip? However, we shall manage. As
you say, the pleasure will be marred to some extent by the pain of
parting from this good, old brother of ours; but after all," and Mrs.
Selwyn seated herself on the arm of the Doctor's chair and ran her
fingers through his hair, "a year passes quickly, and the thought that
Mary is growing well and strong in the wonderful Italian climate will
help you through the lonely hours. But, Frank," an anxious note sounded
in her voice, "do you think she will be equal to the trip in another
week? She is doing nicely, I know, but she has not yet been up even in a
chair."

"No, Elizabeth, Mary will not be able to make that trip next week nor
next month," the Doctor gently replied. "I have just explained to Rob
that an ocean voyage for her before the first of June will, without
doubt, have a very sad ending."

"Why, Frank! what are we to do? I cannot think of allowing Rob to go
away alone and live hotel life for a whole year! And Mary--oh, after the
agony of that awful week, I cannot bear to be parted from her now when
she needs me so much!"

"I have just thought of a plan which I think should work pretty well. I
shall sail alone next Monday, and you and the children, with Aunt Mandy,
of course, will follow me early in June."

"No, no, Rob, I cannot listen to such a plan." Mrs. Selwyn crossed the
room to her husband's side. "If it were a case of a month or six weeks,
I might consider it; but I shall never consent to your living hotel life
for half a year. What if you should become ill? Think of the time it
would take me to reach you. No, no, I must be with you. We shall find a
cosy little place on the outskirts of Rome and make it our home. But
Mary----" and the poor little mother bowed her head on the father's
shoulder.

"Mary will be safe with me, Elizabeth," urged the Doctor. "She will be
loved and cared for as if she were my own child. I shall arrange my
affairs so as to take her South to a warm, dry climate, after Christmas,
and remain there until the first of May. Then, I think Maryvale will be
the best place for her with our own sister to keep a watchful eye on
her. The Sisters and many of the pupils are old friends of hers, and I
shall go out to see her two or three times a week. She will have
country air and country food; and when you return in the fall, you will
not know your tanned, rosy-cheeked little lass. Yes, Mary will be far
better off there than alone here during the day with the servants. You,
Elizabeth, will need Aunt Mandy, and I think you will find Tom very
useful, Rob. I shall close the house and take some apartments in the
building where my office is. Liza will keep house for me. But I would
advise you to say nothing of all this to Mary before Saturday. She will
be stronger then and better able to bear the thought of separation from
you."



CHAPTER X.

A SEVERE TEST.


"Italy, Mother! Father must go to Italy? Where is that?"

It was Saturday morning. During the week, every one had been busy
helping to prepare for the voyage; but as Mary was still too weak to do
more than sit up in a big chair for a short time every day, she saw and
heard nothing that was going on outside her own room.

"Italy is a country in the southern part of Europe, dear. Have you ever
seen a map of Europe?"

"I am not sure, Mother. One warm day at school, Sister took us across
the hall to a cooler room. There were big maps hanging on the walls; and
she showed us the one of our country, and put her pointer right on New
York. She couldn't find Maryvale; but only large cities are shown on
that map; and Maryvale is not even in the village, you know. It is more
than a mile beyond it."

"Maryvale is the name of the convent grounds only; and though they are
very large, they could not be shown on such a map."

"But about Europe, Mother. There is another map hanging next to the one
where New York is. P'r'aps that is Europe. There is one country at the
lower part of it shaped exactly like a boot sticking out into the sea.
Rome, the city where the Pope lives, is in that country."

"And that country is Italy, dear, and Rome is the very city to which
Father is going."

"Oh, will Father see the Pope?"

"He will surely go to see the Holy Father."

"Father Lacey saw the Holy Father last summer when he went to Rome and
took the audience with him. Of course, the whole audience didn't go--you
and Father and Uncle Frank and Rosemary's mother and some others who
were in the audience on the last day of school didn't go."

Mrs. Selwyn laughed merrily.

"If you were to ask Father Lacey about his companions, he would tell you
that he made that trip alone. He _had_ an audience with the Holy Father,
dear; that is, he was allowed to see the Pope and speak with him. The
word _audience_, like many other words, has more than one meaning."

"Dear, me," sighed the little girl, "there is so much to learn; isn't
there, Mother? It seems to me that I just get a thing all fixed in my
mind when I have to upset it and fix it over again a different way."

"Then your first idea was not the correct one. You should ask the
meaning of new words instead of trying to decide for yourself?"

"That's exactly what I shall do after this. But--but, Mother,--don't
you--isn't it just a little strange for Father to go to Italy by
himself? He has never gone away without us, you know. But I s'pose he
will be back in a few days, and he thinks it would be too hard for you
to travel with the babies. Is he going soon?"

"The steamer sails at two o'clock Monday afternoon and will take a week
to reach England where Father must stay for two or three days. Then,
there is the trip across the Channel to France, and from there by train
to Italy. We must allow two weeks for the entire trip."

"Two weeks! Two _weeks_! Why, Mother! Father to be away _two whole
weeks_!--But no,--he will be gone much longer, because it will take two
more weeks to come home, and besides that, he will have to stay in Italy
a few days to attend to that business. Two weeks and two weeks are four
weeks and--why, he will be gone at _least_ five weeks, and what shall we
ever do without him, Mother?"

Mrs. Selwyn's heart sank. How was she to tell the child of the long,
long separation to come? But Mary must hear of it without more delay;
and taking the little girl on her lap, she began: "I have something to
say to you, darling, that you will not like to hear any better than I
like to tell it. Father cannot put off this trip. If he had only himself
and us to think of, he would surely do so even though he would lose the
chance of opening a branch of the business in Rome. But he must think of
his partners in the bank. Now, this is where the trouble lies. Father
must be away from home, not for five or six weeks, but for a year, and
Mother should be with him. It would never do, you know, to have him
living alone in a hotel for a year. In case of illness or accident, it
would take me nearly two weeks to reach him."

"Of _course_ you should be with him, Mother. That is why I said it
seemed strange for Father to go away without us. But Uncle Frank--can he
go, too?"

"No, dear."

"But--but--won't he be very lonely without us, Mother? Oh, dear, me! How
_can_ we go away for a whole year and leave him here all by himself? But
I s'pose there isn't any other way to fix it. Mother, I think I ought to
try to walk to-day. I am sure I can if you and Sister will hold my
hands. Then to-morrow, I shall try going down stairs so as to be ready
for Monday."

"No, no, Mary, you are far too weak to do any walking yet. I fear that
it will be many days before Uncle will allow you to try that. Remember,
he said that you must not sit up in the big chair longer than an hour at
a time. Whether you could walk or not by Monday would make no difference
if you were strong enough otherwise. Father or Uncle Frank could easily
carry you down to the carriage and on the steamer; but----"

"Why--why, Mother!" Mary fixed her startled eyes on Mrs. Selwyn's face.
"You--you sound as if--as if you mean that I am not--not able to go!"

"That is what Mother does mean, darling," Mrs. Selwyn murmured in a
husky voice, pressing her lips to the bright little head. "Uncle says
that the voyage at this time of year would kill you; that the cold and
dampness would bring on a relapse, and you would die before we could
reach England. Oh, my baby! Father and Mother feel very, very bad about
leaving you. What we should do were it not for dear Uncle Frank, I do
not know. It will be a great comfort to us to feel that you are safe
with him, darling, and that you are helping him not to be too lonely. He
loves you so dearly and has the most beautiful plans to keep you happy
and make you well and strong. He will help you to write long letters to
us every Sunday, and I shall write to you every day to tell you just
what we are doing and how fast the babies are growing and----"

Mary had been very, very quiet; but at this--"O Mother, Mother!
don't--_don't_ take the babies away from me," she wailed. "I can't
b--bear _that_! I d--d--don't see how--I can--l--let you and
Father--g--go, but oh! d--don't t--t--take the b--babies away from
m--m--me! Aunt Mandy--a--and Liza will--t--take good care of them,
a--and I will h--help; oh!--I will, I _will_! I d--don't care wh--what
Uncle s--s--says! I d--don't care if I n--n--_never_ learn--a--anything!
I don't care if--I gr--grow up to b--be a d--_dunce_! I'm going--t--to
help--t--take care of the b--b--_babies_!"

"Darling, darling! there, there! You will make yourself ill again!
Listen to Mother a moment!"

Mrs. Selwyn was really alarmed, for never before had the child given way
to such an outburst. She knew that Mary felt things more deeply than do
most children of her age, and had dreaded the hour when she should be
obliged to tell her the sad news. She saw that the little girl was much
weaker after her illness than she had thought. By degrees, she quieted
her, and then resolved to appeal to her generous nature.

"Of course, dear, Father will go alone to Italy rather than have you
make yourself ill again. He loves you so much that he would suffer
loneliness and many other things all his life if by so doing he could
keep you well and happy. If Mother goes with him, she _must_ take the
babies. They are too young to be left with even so good a nurse as dear
old Aunt Mandy. But I am going to let you decide whether I shall go or
stay. I know that will be very, very hard for you to do, because you are
not selfish; and I am perfectly sure of what your answer would be if you
were a little stronger. I know my little bluebird too well to doubt it.
But if you really feel that you cannot do without Father and Mother and
the babies and Aunt Mandy--for, of course, I shall need her--you must
not fear to tell me so. Now, I am going to put you to bed and give you
some broth; and then I shall go away for a little while to let you have
time to think."

The frail little arms went round her neck as Mary whispered, "No, no,
Mother, I don't need time to think. I know now. I will stay," she gulped
hard, "with Uncle. I'm sorry--I was so selfish and horrid, and that I
said I wouldn't mind Uncle. I will, Mother, everything he tells me.
But--but I'll just have to cry a little bit now."



CHAPTER XI.

WELCOME VISITORS.


When the Doctor went up to Mary's room after luncheon to make his usual
visit, he found a very quiet little girl waiting for him. His sister had
told him no more than was necessary of the scene an hour earlier, so
that he was more than surprised to find the child in bed and oh, so
tired!

"I fear that you stayed up too long this morning, little one. Better
take a nap and not try to sit up again to-day. You are going to have
company this afternoon. Can you guess who it is?"

"To-day is Saturday. Aunt Mary, Uncle?"

"Exactly. She and Sister Dominic are in town doing some shopping, and
she called me up at the office to know at what hour they might see my
patient. I told them to come about three o'clock. That will give you
plenty of time for a little rest."

"Uncle--please put your head down." Her little arms clasped his neck,
and she whispered close to his ear, "I love to be with you, but--but I
just can't help wishing that I could go----"

"I know, dear, I know. I, too, wish that you were able to go--that we
might both go; but you have no idea what it is going to mean to me to
have you with me. I have so many lovely plans that I fear we shall never
have time to carry them all out. One is about the pony you will learn to
ride when we go South after Christmas to a beautiful, warm place where
we shall almost live outdoors under such a bright blue sky that you may
have to wear black spectacles. Green ones might be more to your taste,
or those new style amber-colored ones."

"What is amber color, Uncle?"

"A deep, golden yellow. Oh, I _beg_ your pardon! Yellow is not your
favorite color, nor green, either."

"Nor black, _either_. If I _must_ wear glasses, they will have to be
clear ones like Aunt Mandy's or blue ones."

"But black is not a color. It is the absence of all color. Do you know,
it seems to me strange that your hair has escaped----"

"My hair escaped!" Mary felt her head. "Why, Uncle, it is on my head
just as tight as ever. You frightened me. I thought it was flying away.
I s'pose _escaped_ has more than one meaning just as so many words have.
When I forgot to close the door of Dick's cage, and he flew out, Mother
said he had escaped."

"In this case, I mean that I am surprised that you have not dyed your
hair blue or bleached it white."

"Now, Uncle, you are just teasing me. Have _you_ ever seen anyone with
blue hair?"

"I must admit that I have not. Such a person would soon make her fortune
in a dime museum or in a side-show at a circus."

"You know very well, sir, that the promise doesn't mean that a person
has to change the color of her hair and lips. Why, no one's face is pure
white; and who ever heard of blue lips?"

"Two weeks ago, the lips of a certain person, not a thousand miles away,
were as blue as I should ever care to see anyone's, and her face looked
as white as the pillow. But I am glad to know that you do not intend to
blue your hair. It brightens things up as a sudden burst of sunshine
does on a gloomy day. Let me punch up that pillow for you, and then go
to sleep just as fast as you can so as to be ready for Aunt Mary and
Sister Dominic."

When Mary opened her eyes two hours later, the sound of voices in the
next room told her that her visitors had arrived. Presently, her mother
peeped in, and finding the little girl awake, propped her up against the
pillows and put a fluffy white shawl about her shoulders.

This was Sister Madeline's first visit since Mary had begun to recover.

"I'm so sorry that I didn't know you were here those other times, Aunt
Mary. Mother told me afterwards when the bad dreams went away. It seems
strange that I had them nearly all the time then, and they never bother
me now."

"That is a very good sign that you are much better. You will soon be
able to spend the day with us at Maryvale. By the way, Elizabeth, where
did you put that famous black bag at which you are always poking fun?
Mary will have greater respect for it than you have when she sees what
there is in it for her. Now," and Sister Madeline drew from her cloth
bag a large oblong package, "can you guess what this is?"

"Some of Sister Wilfred's cookies?"

"Oh, dear, no! But remember that, Sister Dominic, for our next visit.
You are so 'cold,' Mary, that I am sure you can never guess. Just see
how your little friends spent their library hour last evening."

"Letters! and such a pile of them!"

"Yes, it will take you some time to read them. I was so afraid that the
postman might object to bringing such a number to one little girl that I
thought I had better carry them myself. Some of the children feared that
they would not look like real letters; so they took the stamps from old
envelopes to paste on theirs and made circles with spools for postmarks
and asked some of the larger girls to print in them the names and dates.
I am very sure that no little girl has ever received so many letters
from distant lands. Here is one with the Cuban stamp, one from Brazil,
several from Canada, one from China, one from Italy----"

"Oh, please let me look at that stamp, Aunt Mary--Now I shall know which
letters are from Father and Mother the very minute the postman brings
them," Mary murmured wistfully.

"Do you think, Sister, that the boy with our suit-case is lost? We had
something else for Mary packed in a black suit-case, Elizabeth; and as
we did not care to carry it about town with us, we sent a boy out here
with it."

"It is safe in Sister Julia's room. The boy handed it to Liza with the
message, 'For the Sister;' and as Sister Julia has returned to her
convent for a few hours, we thought, of course, that she had sent back
some clothing by him. I shall get it."

"Perhaps you will make a warmer guess this time, Mary," said Sister
Dominic, placing the suit-case on a chair beside the bed. "I assure you
that it is nothing Sister Julia would think of wearing."

"I guess books, Sister."

"The suit-case is not heavy enough for books, dear. Indeed," laughed
Mrs. Selwyn, "I rather think that Aunt Mary is playing a joke on you."

"Not at all!" and Sister Madeline threw back the cover.

"Oh, oh! what beauties!"

Mary's eyes shone with delight at sight of the great mass of
chrysanthemums--big, ragged yellow ones; fluffy pink ones; curly white
ones; "and see, Mother, see the long sprays of little baby ones!"

"Dan has had great success with his chrysanthemums this year," explained
Sister Madeline. "I tell him that they would win the prize at the flower
show; but he insists that he raises his flowers for the altar, not for
prizes."

"I think that is where these ought to be, Aunt Mary. Do you think Mr.
Daniel would mind if Mother sends the big ones to Father Lacey for the
altar, and keeps just the little ones for us?--the little white ones to
put before Blessed Mother's statue, the pink ones for the dinner table,
and the yellow ones in here to prove to Uncle that I do like yellow."

"I am quite sure that Dan would be pleased with your plan, dear."

"Then I shall pack the large ones in a box," said Mrs. Selwyn, "and Tom
may leave them at the rectory when he returns after driving you to the
ferry."

"Please thank Mr. Daniel, Aunt Mary, and the girls, too, for their
letters; but tell them I am afraid that I can't answer them very soon."

"But the children do not expect you to answer those letters, Mary."

"I know the very thing! I shall ask Uncle to write one letter to all of
them, and I shall tell him what to say. We can do the same thing to the
girls in my class. Every one of them wrote to me, too, and said prayers
for me while I was so sick."



CHAPTER XII.

THOSE PRECIOUS LAST HOURS.


Sunday evening found the trunks packed and strapped. Except for a while
in the morning and afternoon, when Mary was resting, the whole family
spent the day in her room. Perhaps it would have been better for the
child if they had not done so; for the more she saw of her little
sisters, the harder it became for her to think of parting with them. It
seemed to her that the hours fairly flew, and as evening drew near, her
poor little heart grew heavier and heavier. But she bore up bravely--so
bravely that her mother was more than surprised. Then bedtime came; and
Mrs. Selwyn herself, instead of the nurse, tucked the little girl in for
the night and sat by the bedside until she thought Mary was asleep.

An hour later, she tiptoed into the room. All was quiet; but as she bent
to give the child a last good-night kiss and to smooth her pillow, she
found the little face wet with tears and the pillow soaked. Wrapping
Mary in a blanket, she took her in her arms, and seating herself,
rocked quietly for some time. The child's big wistful eyes never left
her face. At last the mother spoke.

"When Father told me, dear, that he must go away for a year and found
that you must remain at home, he made a plan to which I would not
listen. He said that he would sail now, and that we should follow in
June. I could not bear to think of his being alone in a strange country
with none of his own near him for six or seven months; but neither can I
bear to leave my little girl in such a state. I know that this is a very
great trial for you, darling, and I fear that we are asking too much of
you in your present weakness. So I think I had better place Father in
our dear Lord's hands, and let him carry out his plan. Perhaps something
will happen so that he need not be away so long; but if by the first of
June he cannot return, we shall go to him. So try to sleep now, my
darling. Mother will not leave you."

"But you must, you _must_, Mother!" whispered Mary. "We would just die
thinking of Father and how lonely he would be and--and everything. I
won't cry any more--truly, I won't. I shall go to sleep just as fast as
I can. Is it very late, Mother?"

"No, dear, only half-past nine."

"Then will you stay with me until I go to sleep? It will be only a
little minute."

When Mary awoke the next morning, her father was sitting beside the bed,
holding on his knee the very dearest doll she had ever seen. It was as
large as a real baby, and its arms were stretched out to her. With a cry
of delight, she stretched hers out, too, when--how it happened, Mary did
not know--the doll was crying and waving its arms and kicking just as
the twins did.

"Why--why--oh, the poor little thing! It must have the colic, Father."

Then something happened again, and dollie was once more smiling.

"Is it a live doll, Father?" whispered the little girl in wonder.

"No, pet. See this button at the back of its neck? Watch what happens
when I push it."

"Oh, oh! _Now_, I know! Its head turns around inside its cap, and it has
a crying face instead of hair at the back of its head. Father, where
_did_ you find such a darling doll?"

"I happened to see it Saturday on my way from the bank to the steamship
office. Mother had just telephoned me that our brave little daughter
would not think of letting her old daddy live among strangers----"

"But--but I _wasn't_ brave, Father," came the protest in a choked voice.
"Didn't Mother tell you how horrid I was?"

"No, dear; and I really cannot believe that you were horrid. I know that
you must have felt just as I did when Uncle Frank said that you could
not go with us. Sometimes on the spur of the moment, we say things that
we do not really mean, and I am sure that is what you did. But here is
something that will interest you--a fine kodak. We shall take pictures
of the babies every week, and mail them to you, and Uncle will get you a
new album to paste them in."

Shortly after luncheon, Aunt Mandy brought the babies in for the last
time. Mary hugged them and kissed their rosy little faces over and over
again as she whispered, "Take care of them, Aunt Mandy, oh, take care of
them and of Father and Mother----"

"'Cose I will, honey chile! Why fo' yo' 'spects old mammy gwine 'long, I
lak to know?"

Then her father and mother came; and Mary, winking very fast and
swallowing hard, clung to them not daring to speak, but just drinking
in every loving word which they uttered. They had hardly left the room
when the Doctor appeared. Mary clenched her hands and tried to smile at
him.

"They have gone downstairs, have they? I shall be back very soon,
Goldilocks." Then, touched by the utter loneliness of the little figure
in the big chair, he added, "Just as soon as I put them into the
carriage. But you ought to be at a front window to wave to them. Will
you please bring some of those sofa cushions, Sister?"

"But--Uncle," said Mary as he hurried with her through the hall, "I
thought you were going to see them off."

"I did think of doing so, but I have changed my mind."

"No, Uncle, you must not stay just for me. Please go with
them--_please_! But come back soon."

"I shall be back by three o'clock, little one," and he was gone.

Bravely the little girl tried to smile as she pressed her face close to
the windowpane and threw a last kiss to her mother before she stepped
into the carriage. Her father and uncle, each holding a baby, made them
wave and kiss their tiny hands to her, and then passed them in to Mrs.
Selwyn and Aunt Mandy. Another moment, and the door closed after the two
men. Mary knelt on the sill with Sister Julia's strong arm to support
her, and strained her eyes for the very last glimpse of the handkerchief
fluttering from the carriage window. Then she sank upon the cushions,
her frail little form shaking with the sobs she could no longer control.

Just before three o'clock, the Doctor returned. In spite of his own
sadness, he had tried on his way home to remember the amusing things
which he had seen at the docks so that he would have something cheerful
to tell Mary. He made a special effort to whistle a lively tune as he
mounted the stairs; but at the door of her room, it died on his lips.

"Why--why--" he was at the bedside in three strides.

"O Uncle! I thought you would _never_ come!"

"But, dear, I stayed only long enough to see the steamer underway, as I
thought you wished me to do. I did not even stop at my office on the way
home. What is it? Are you in pain?"

"My head, Uncle."

The Doctor looked with questioning eyes at Sister Julia, who was
bathing the child's head. She nodded toward the hall and soon followed
him from the room.

"It is nothing more than I feared, Doctor. She has been under a greater
strain for the past two days than anyone thought. I have seldom seen
such self-control in older people, and certainly did not look for it in
a frail child like Mary."

"I knew that she was making an immense effort to keep up, and I feared
the result; but this--have you taken her temperature, Sister?"

"Fifteen minutes ago, it was one hundred and two."

"Hm, I thought so. However, as a mere cold throws her into quite a
fever, I am not alarmed yet. I shall stay with her for awhile, and you
had better take a few hours rest. You will get very little of that
to-night."



CHAPTER XIII.

SISTER JULIA.


The following morning, the fever had left her; but Mary was tired and
listless, refusing milk, broth, everything. When her uncle was with her,
she clung to him, great tears running down her pale little face. Nothing
that he or Sister Julia could say comforted her. She was lonely, lonely,
lonely! That day passed, as did the next, without any change. The Doctor
felt helpless; and when at noon, Thursday, the usual scene took place,
he strode from the room, muttering, "I will send a wireless! They must
try to be transferred to the first homeward bound steamer that they
meet. To Halifax with the business!"

Then Sister Julia made up her mind to take matters into her own hands.
Drawing a low chair to the bedside, she began, "I think I shall tell you
a story, Mary."

"I--don't seem to care very much about stories any more, Sister."

"I have noticed that, dear; but this is one that I think you really
should hear."

"Is it a long one, Sister? Please don't make it very long, because I
don't want to think of anything but my darling father and mother and
little sisters."

"Very well, I shall make it as short as possible--this true story which
I am going to tell you.

"I once had a little patient suffering from the same illness which you
have just had. Like you, too, she was blessed with a very loving father
and mother and a good, kind uncle. The doctor who attended her had told
me how much this uncle thought of the little girl; but it was not until
I was sent to take care of her that I saw just how matters stood. There
were other children in the family; but before I was in the house one
hour, I knew that the sick little girl had first place in her uncle's
heart as well as in the hearts of everyone in that home. And she well
deserved it; for in all my years of nursing, I have never met a more
lovable child. Gentle, patient, obedient, always thinking of
others--why, before the first day had passed, I think I loved her almost
as dearly as those who had known her all her life. I was quite ready to
agree with the doctor in his opinion of her.

"Well, not to make too long a story of it, the child grew steadily
worse. My heart ached more for the uncle than for her parents; because
they had their other children, while he seemed too wrapped up in his
little pet to think of anyone else. Then came a night when we thought
the little girl's soul was about to return to God. I shall never forget
the face of that poor uncle as he knelt at the bedside. It was gray,
Mary, positively _gray_, and the pain in his kind eyes made me long to
go away and cry. Great drops stood on his forehead though the room was
really chilly, for the doctor had ordered me to keep it very cool.

"Oh, how I prayed to the loving Heart of our Divine Lord that, if it was
His holy will, He would spare the child to that good man who had done so
much for Him in the persons of His poor, suffering, little ones----"

"Sister, you are telling about Uncle! I know you are! It is all coming
back to me about that night--I had forgotten it. I remember that I
didn't know anything for a long time. Even the man with the knives was
gone--and the silly little birds. Then, I woke; but I didn't open my
eyes right away. The pain was all gone, and everything was so quiet that
I thought I was alone; so I opened my eyes and saw Father at the foot of
the bed looking straight at me. Then I saw Uncle, and he looked so
strange that I thought he must be sick, too. But his eyes smiled at me
and I tried to smile back, but I was too tired; and before I knew it, I
went to sleep again."

"Yes, dear, it all happened just as you say, only that you did smile.
But even then, we thought you were slipping away from us, and fully
fifteen minutes passed before we knew that God had answered our
prayers."

There was a long pause.

"But--but, Sister,--not all of your story is true. I was cross and
cranky and screamed when the pain was bad; and I couldn't think of
anyone but that dreadful man with the long knives, or of those silly
little birds with yellow ribbons around their necks. No wonder Uncle
teases me about yellow."

"But, Mary, you were not yourself for many, many days. Do you remember
the morning I told you that you must fight to get well? I had good
reason to regret that advice; for instead of fighting the illness, you
used those little fists on everyone who came near you. When your uncle
tried to listen to your lungs, you struck out so well that your mother
and I had to hold your hands----"

"Why, _Sister_, you don't mean _that_!"

"Indeed I do! I shall not soon forget the time you caught the Doctor's
head between your hands. My! what a boxing you gave his poor ears!"

"_Sister!--I--boxed--Uncle's--ears!--O Sister!_" and Mary buried her
burning face in the pillow.

"But, darling, that is nothing to be ashamed of. You did not know what
you were doing. We expected worse things than that."

"Worse than boxing poor, dear Uncle's ears? Could anything be worse than
that?" came the muffled question.

"Indeed, yes, Mary."

"But, Sister," Mary sat up, "surely not when you think of how awful he
looked that night. Poor Father looked oh, so tired! But Uncle--I didn't
know him until he smiled in his eyes."

"Did you know him when he was in here a few minutes ago, dear?"

"Why--why of course I knew him. I don't remember whether I looked right
at his face----"

"I am quite sure that you did not, Mary, or you would never have let him
go away without trying to make him feel better. You are not a selfish
little girl; and I am very sure that when you understand the harm you
are doing to your good, kind uncle, you will try to put an end to it."

"The _harm--I--am--doing--to--Uncle_! You surely don't know me very
well, Sister, if you think I would harm Uncle for anything in the whole
world!"

"I am very, very sure, Mary, that you would not intend to harm him."

"But what _is_ it, Sister? Won't you please tell me? Am I bad?" the
child asked piteously. "Is it bad to be so tired, and not to be hungry,
and to like just to think of my darling father and mother and little
sisters, and to want Uncle to stay with me every minute he can? Am I a
bad girl to do that?"

"I did not mean for an instant that you have been a bad girl, dear. It
is weakness that makes you so tired; but unless you try to take food
even though you are not hungry, you cannot expect to grow stronger.
Surely, since the good God did not take you from those who love you so
much, He must wish you to do everything you can to grow well and strong.
As for your father and mother and the babies, you would be a strange
little girl if you did _not_ think of them very, very often; but in the
way you have been doing it, dear child, you have, without knowing it,
been harming yourself and others. Let me tell you just how it has all
seemed to me. First, our dear Lord sent you the measles----"

"Oh, did He, Sister? I thought I caught them at school."

"But if it had not been His will that you should have them, you would
not have caught them. That illness meant that you must be away from your
mother and little sisters; but you were so good and brave and patient
about it all that others would not have guessed how much that separation
cost you until they saw how happy you were at the thought of being with
them soon again. I am sure that our dear Lord was very much pleased with
you, and you must have won many graces.

"Then, for His own wise reasons, He sent you greater suffering. There
are some people who think that all pain and sorrow is a punishment from
God; but this is not true. Our Lord often sends such trials so that we
may grow more like Him and merit a greater reward in heaven. We are told
that suffering is a mark of God's love. Even when He sends it as a
punishment, He does so in love; for it is far better to be punished for
our sins in this world than in the next.

"In your second illness, I really think that those who love you suffered
more from the fear of losing you than you did even from the great pain.
However that may be, our dear Lord wished you to do something more for
Him--something that you found much harder than your first or second
trial. In those you had no choice. The illness came, and you could not
escape it. But you might have refused our Lord when He asked you to give
up your mother----"

"But--but, Sister, our Lord didn't ask me to do that--nobody really
_asked_ me. I just couldn't think of letting poor Father go away by
himself, you know."

"But has not our Lord said that whatever we do to even the least of His
little ones, we do it unto Him? And do you not make your Morning
Offering every day?"

"Oh, yes, Sister, the very minute I wake in the morning, even though it
isn't time to get up. I make it again when I say my morning prayers; but
I have _thoughts_ even though I may not _do_ anything before I say them;
and they ought to be offered up, I think."

"Surely, dear. So last Saturday you had made your Morning Offering of
all your thoughts, words, and actions to God; and when the time came to
decide whether you wished your mother to go with your father or to stay
with you, you had already offered Him the thought and action and
suffering, even though you did not think of it that way at the time."

"N--no, Sister, I didn't. I was so--I don't like to say s'prised,
because I think a s'prise ought to be something to make someone happy."

"Perhaps _shocked_ is the better word."

"That's just exactly it, Sister. I was so shocked that I said dreadful
things, and--and--oh, I was horrid! And while Mother was talking to me,
I didn't know what to do. Then I remembered that Sister Florian said
that when we had to decide something we must ask our Lord to help us,
and she told us to say to our Blessed Mother, 'Mother, tell me what am
I to do,' We were learning a hymn to her at school and that is the last
line of every verse. I remember the first verse:

    "'O Virgin Mother, Lady of Good Counsel,
      Sweetest picture artist ever drew,
    In all doubts I fly to thee for guidance,
      Mother! tell me, what am I to do?'"

"And our Blessed Lady did tell you what to do, and her Divine Son gave
you the grace to do it, and you gave Him the gift He was asking of you.
Indeed, dear, what you have done is no small thing, but don't you think
that it would be too bad to take back part of your gift, or to spoil it
in any way? Would not that be a selfish thing to do? In sickness, we
must be very careful. It acts in two ways, making the patient either
more selfish or more thoughtful of others. Until the last few days, I
thought it was having the good effect upon you; but now, I am just a
little afraid that you are forgetting others, especially that good, kind
uncle, who is trying to make you well and happy."

There was a moment's silence; then, "Sister, please ring for Liza----Oh,
why _doesn't_ she hurry!"



CHAPTER XIV.

THE REAL MARY.


"Please tell Uncle to come up again just for a minute, Liza. Don't let
him go back to the office until----"

"Why, Miss May-ree, I done t'ought Massa Frank wah up heah wif yo' all
dis time. His lunch am gittin' cold, sottin' dah on de table, an' ole
Susie am on de rampage, sho' nuff. She jes' done tol' dis yeah chile dat
she am plumb tiahed out cookin' fo' a gemplum what doan' eat nuffin but
coffee, coffee, coffee, ebery single meal. It's 'bout time yo' put a
stop to dat, Miss May-ree. Yo' is de only one dat kin. Yo' ma nebah
'lowed Massa Frank to drink coffee dat-a-way, no-how."

"But--but, Liza,--Uncle was here for just a little minute, and--and you
don't mean that he hasn't eaten his luncheon yet? He will never have
time to do it now. Please see if he is in his room."

"No, Mary, your uncle went down stairs when he left you. I heard the
front door close a few moments later, so I fear that he has gone."

"Laws a massy! Dis yeah chile bettah keep out'n dat kitchen fo' de res'
ob _dis_ aftahnoon, sho's yo' born!"

"O Liza, Liza! look everywhere downstairs to see if Uncle isn't there,
_please_! What shall I do if he has gone--gone without a bite to eat!"

"But dat's persackly what he's done did, Miss May-ree, kase I'se looked
fo' him ebery place; an' dat's what he's been adoin' ebery day, honey;
and dat's what fo' ole Susie am so mad; an' dat's what fo' I done said
yo's de only one what kin put a stop to it. But dah, honey, doan' yo'
fret yo' poah li'l haid 'bout it no-how. Dis crazy niggah ain't got no
right to tell yo' nuffin 'bout it."

"Yes, you have, you have, Liza! Oh, I wish you had told me the very
first day! Please go right down to Susie, and ask her to cook everything
Uncle likes best for dinner this evening; and tell her that he will eat
them--every bite."

"Yas'm, Miss May-ree, I sho'ly will do dat. But ef'n ole Susie am gwine
to cook _eberyt'ing_ what Massa Frank laks bes', honey, I reckon dat
gemplum's got to wait mighty late fo' his dinnah; kase yo' know dey's a
powahful lot ob t'ings what Massa Frank laks bes'; dey sahtinly is!"

"Then pick out the ones he likes the _very best_, Liza,--the very,
_very_ best. Come back after while, and I shall help you to remember
them."

"Yas'm, Miss May-ree, yas'm," and Liza hurried down to restore peace in
the kitchen.

"O Sister, Sister, _Sister_! What shall I _do_! What _shall_ I do! Oh, I
am bad--_bad_!"

"Come, dear, come! Crying will not mend matters. You did not know that
you were doing any harm, and you have already begun to repair it; so let
us plan the next step."

"But I must tell Uncle--oh, I don't know _what_, but I must tell him
_something_! Do you think he is at his office yet? Will you telephone to
him for me, Sister?"

"He has scarcely had time to reach the office, dear; but in ten or
fifteen minutes, I shall call him and give him any message you wish to
send. In the meantime, you had better take the second step, which is to
drink this broth. Cold broth is not very tempting."

Eagerly, the little girl emptied the bowl.

"I shall take the egg and milk after while if you think I ought to,
Sister. I am _so_ tired of eggs and milk, but----"

"If you take them faithfully for another day or two, I am sure the
Doctor will order something new for you."

"If--if I took them about three times this afternoon, do you think I
could have some meat soon? Meat makes people strong, doesn't it,
Sister?"

"So do eggs and milk," laughed the nurse. "But three times in one
afternoon would be too much for you. Now, I am going to darken the room;
and while you are taking your nap, I shall telephone to your uncle. For
one thing, I shall tell him that he will find our patient better this
evening."

"Oh, yes, Sister! And ask him _please_ to go to the hotel across the
street to get his dinner right now--not luncheon,--_dinner_.
And--and--tell him I didn't know----"

"I shall explain that part, darling; and I have just thought of a plan
which I am sure you will like. Go to sleep, now; for the sooner you do
that, the earlier you will wake to hear about it."

When Mary opened her eyes, she was surprised to find the room filled
with the rosy glow of the shaded lamp.

"Is it night, Sister? Has Uncle come?"

"No, dear, it is only half past four; but the afternoon has been so dark
that Liza and I needed the light to begin to carry out my plan."

"Oh, please tell me what it is, Sister. The very idea for me to sleep
all afternoon!"

"I am glad you did so, because you will be fresh for the evening. How
would you like to invite your uncle to have dinner up here?"

Mary clapped her hands, and Sister Julia continued, "I took it for
granted that you would approve of my plan, and called Liza to help me
carry in this table from your playroom. We shall place it close to your
bed. She has gone for the tablecloth and dishes."

"Sister, please ask her to use my great-grandmother's set--the ones with
the plain gold band and the beautiful C on them. Uncle likes those best.
And flowers--we must have flowers."

"The roses your uncle brought at noon will be just the thing."

"Roses? Oh, now I remember--and I hardly looked at them. Poor Uncle! Is
there a pretty bud among them, Sister?--Please cut off part of the stem,
and Liza will put it on his dresser for him to wear. _Sister!_ wouldn't
it be fun to write him an invitation exactly like the kind Mother sends
when she has a dinner party? I have a lovely box of paper with M. S. in
blue and gold up in the corner. We shall seal it and paste an old stamp
on it and make a postmark just as the girls at Maryvale did with the
letters they sent me by Aunt Mary. Liza will lay it on the hall table
where Uncle will see it the minute he comes in."

Sister Julia seated herself at Mary's little desk and soon had the
following invitation written:

Miss Mary Selwyn requests the pleasure of Doctor Francis P. Carlton's
company at dinner on Thursday, November eighteenth, at six o'clock.

"That is exactly what Mother says in her invitations. Did--did Uncle say
he would go to dinner when you telephoned, Sister?"

"Yes, dear, your message made him so happy that he said he would order a
Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of time."

"That _is_ so, isn't it, Sister? A week from to-day will be
Thanksgiving. And Father and Mother and the babies won't be here; and
they will be away for Christmas and New Year's Day and Mother's
birthday and Valentine's Day and Father's birthday and for Easter and my
birthday and Fourth of July and Uncle's birthday and the twinnies'----"
Mary's voice broke in a sob.

"But think of all the happy days that you will spend with them next year
and for many, many years to come, dear. You think the babies very sweet
and cunning now, and so they are; but in another year, you will find
them far more so. They will be learning to talk and will keep you very
busy running after them to see that they do not get into mischief or
fall down the stairs. You will be a great help to Aunt Mandy then, for
she is scarcely spry enough to run after one baby,--to say nothing of
two. So just think of the happy times ahead, dear, and you will be
surprised to find how quickly this year will slip by. Come, dry your
eyes. It will never do to have your uncle find you crying. Can you think
of anything else that will help to make our surprise for him a greater
success?"

"Don't you think I ought to dress up for this dinner party, Sister?"

"Beyond washing your face and brushing your hair, I cannot very well see
how a little girl sick in bed can dress up."

"You could do up my hair the way mother wears hers, and--and--oh, I have
a beautiful new ribbon, pale blue with tiny white rosebuds sprinkled
over it. We can twist it and put it around my head like a wreath, with
the bow sticking up at one side. Let me see what else we can do--I know!
In the middle drawer of the dresser, there is a cute little dressing
sack with rosebuds made of white satin ribbon down the front instead of
buttons. I just have to loop cords over them."

When Mary was "dressed up" to her taste, the nurse insisted that she
must lean back against the pillows to rest.

"You must not overdo, or you will be worn out by the time your uncle
comes home."

The little girl gave a sigh of content.

"Sister, you have made me so happy. I thought I could never be happy
again, _never_!"

"I think you have done a great deal toward making yourself happy, Mary.
You must expect to have many lonely hours; but at such times, you should
try to remember how very, very much worse things could be. Suppose you
were in the place of a little girl I heard of not long ago, whose
father, mother, brothers, and sister all died of black diphtheria
within two weeks. She had no good, kind uncle or other relatives to look
after her, so there was nothing to do but to place her in an orphan
asylum."

Mary was very quiet for some time. Then Liza came in to set the table.

"Wal, Miss May-ree, what yo' reckon Massa Frank gwine t' eat fo' his
dinnah, no-how? Dem red roses, or meat an' 'tatahs an' veg'tubbles? Dem
flowahs am _mighty_ putty, honey; but ef dey's gwine to sot lak dat in
de middle ob de table, dey won't be no room fo' de t'ings to eat; and' I
reckon dis yeah chile 'll hab to sot dem on chairs, he! he! he!"

"We can place this small table just behind that one, Liza, and stand the
flowers on it."

"Dat's de ticket, Sistah! 'Peahs to me yo' alwuz knows jes' de right
t'ing."

"What is it, dear?" asked the nurse, for Mary was looking about the room
as if in search of something.

"My new doll, Sister, please. Do you know where she is? Uncle hasn't
seen her. I couldn't bear to look at her after the babies had gone."

"I put her in the high chair in your playroom, Mary."

"I'se gwine to fotch her fo' yo', honey. She am de lubliest doll-baby
yo' has, she sahtinly am! She's done fooled dis yeah chile 'bout fawty
times, sottin' dah smilin' wif her li'l hands reachin' out fo' me to tek
her."

"Please bring the chair, too, Liza. She can sit right by the bed."

The maid soon returned.

"Dah she am! _Ain't_ she jes' too lubly! What's her name, Miss May-ree?"

"Amelia Anabelle."

"Laws a massy, but dat do sound scrumptious!" and Liza turned to the
setting of the table.

Mary rested her hand for a moment on the back of the high chair, and the
maid whirled about to gaze at the crying, kicking Amelia Anabelle.

"Why--why--what--pull yo' li'l hand away, Miss May-ree! Pull it away!
Doan' yo' tech dat t'ing! Somebudy done put de conjure on dat doll!" and
Liza, her eyes bulging, backed quickly toward the door.

"No, no, Liza, don't be afraid. She will be good. See?"

Amelia Anabelle was again smiling; but Liza stood in the hall, well out
of harm's way, crying hoarsely, "Doan' yo' tech it, Miss May-ree, honey.
It am a ha'nt!"

"Oh, dear, no!" laughed the little girl. "Father wouldn't give me a
haunted doll. Who ever heard of a haunted doll, anyway? Please don't go
away, Liza. Come and finish setting the table."

"Not while dat doll am sottin' dah, Miss May-ree!"

"But the doll can't do anything unless I push a button in the back of
her neck. You are not afraid of the electric lights, are you?"

"Co'se I isn't, Miss May-ree."

"Well, you push a button to turn them on and off, and I push a button to
turn my doll's head around and show her other face. She has two faces,
you see. That's all."

"I nebah done laked two-face folkses. Miss May-ree, an' I'se not gwine
to begin to lak dem now," and Liza could not be coaxed back until Sister
Julia had carried the doll into the next room.

Presently, a cheery whistle broke the stillness of the house.

"There's Uncle, Sister! Please peep over the banisters to see what he
does when he finds the invitation. Oh, he sees it!" for the merry time
had suddenly ceased.

"I wish you could have seen his face while he read it, Mary," said the
nurse a few moments later. "He had a great laugh over the stamp and
postmark. Then he started upstairs at such a rate that I was almost
caught in the act. I heard him say, 'Well, she won't get ahead of me
there!' So what he is up to is hard to tell."

"He is whistling, 'There's a Good Time Coming, Boys!' and there _is_,
Sister! Why--why, he has gone to his room!"

"You surely would not expect him to pay you a call when he is coming to
dine with you. Perhaps he, too, thinks that he should dress up."



CHAPTER XV.

IN THE FIRELIGHT.


The little girl's patience was pretty well tried; but at last she heard
the Doctor's step in the hall, and the next moment he stood in the
doorway in his tuxedo, the red rosebud in his buttonhole. Mary almost
clapped her hands; but remembering that she was the hostess, she tried
to behave in a most grown-up manner and welcomed her uncle as she had
seen her mother greet guests. It was a little hard not to forget that
she was _Miss_ Selwyn, especially when the Doctor started toward the
left side of the bed, which was the dining-room, and almost saw behind
the screen which hid the table from view.

Liza appeared very promptly with the dinner, the screen was removed, and
the Doctor took his place at the table, saying, "I am very sorry, Miss
Selwyn, that you cannot partake of anything more than the first course."

"I am quite sure that I am even more sorry than you are, Doctor
Carlton," was the very truthful response.

Then the Doctor forgot that he was a guest at a fashionable dinner
party, and declared that Mary should have a few bites of meat if she
would swallow no more than the juice of it.

Several times, Liza was obliged to hurry from the room so as not to be
seen laughing at Mary's quaint remarks. After she had served the
dessert, Mary said, "Doctor Carlton, one of my guests is in the playroom
waiting to be brought in to dinner. I could not have her here while Liza
was in the room."

"I shall be delighted to act as her escort, Miss Selwyn."

The Doctor soon returned with Amelia Anabelle, whom he placed in the
high chair, saying, "A fine, little girl, Miss Selwyn, a fine, healthy
child, indeed! Is she a relative of yours?"

"Yes, Doctor, she is my niece. On the whole, she is a very good child;
but, of course, she has her tantrums sometimes just as other children
have."

"Oh, I think you must be mistaken about that, Miss Selwyn. Such a
good-natured-looking child could not possibly give way to tantrums," and
the Doctor began to eat his pie.

Mary pressed the button; and dropping his fork, he stared at the
screaming, kicking Amelia Anabelle.

"You see, Doctor, she can be a very naughty child. I think she is crying
for some of your pie."

"No, no, madam, pumpkin pie is very bad for so young a child. Some of
the cream on your gelatine will be just the thing for her." Then, when
peace was restored, he once more forgot that he was a guest and asked,
"How did you manage that? is the face made of rubber?"

"No, Uncle, it is the same as my other dolls' faces. Liza says that
Amelia Anabelle is a haunt."

"Nonsense! That doll's antics can be explained as easily as most of the
ghosts that we hear about. A string and a spring will work wonders; but
I don't quite see how they can make so great a change in a bisque face.
Never mind. I shall find out for myself before I go to bed to-night. No
wonder that poor Liza is afraid of that doll."

"Uncle, has Liza much book learning?"

"'Education' is a better word, dear. No, Liza has not had much
education. If she had had a little more, she would not be so ready to
believe in haunts, as she calls them. Why do you ask that question?"

"Aunt Mandy told me that she didn't have any herself, and that she
expects to live to be ever so old. She seems to think that book--I mean
_education_ makes people die young. Does it, Uncle?"

"Not at all. Of course, if one devotes too much time to study and not
enough to proper exercise and rest, there is reason to fear that the
health will suffer. But there is not much danger that many young people
nowadays will die of overstudy. There, I can't begin to tell you how
much I have enjoyed this dinner."

"O Uncle, will you let Liza bring your dinner up here every evening
until I am well enough to go down stairs?"

"Unless she objects, I shall be only too glad to do so--that is, if you
will not expect me to dress up in this fashion."

"Why, Uncle, I didn't expect you to do that even _this_ evening."

"But your invitation called for it."

"Then I shall not send you any more invitations. We shall be just our
own selves and not pretend anything. Don't you think it would be nice
if you took off those stiff things now and put on your smoking jacket
and slippers? And--and couldn't we sit by the fire in the sitting-room
and talk until oh, ever so late? I took a long, long nap this
afternoon."

"I quite agree to part of your plan; but as for sitting up until a very
late hour--well, we shall see."

Ten minutes later found him in a big leather chair before the blazing
fire with Mary, snugly wrapped in a blanket, on his knee. For some time,
he forgot the little girl, and sat watching the dancing flames and
thinking of the great steamer plowing its way through the dark waters of
the Atlantic. Mary's eyes never left his face; and feeling her gaze upon
him, he smiled down at her. She slipped her arm around his neck, drawing
his head down; and his kind blue eyes grew misty as, gazing once more
into the fire, he listened while she whispered many things into his
ear--things which let him see deep down into her loving little heart and
bound it more closely to his own with bands which the sad after days
only strengthened.

When she had finished, he said nothing--just held her close and pressed
his lips to the bright little head resting so trustingly against his
arm; and Mary knew that he understood.

After a long, long silence, he began to tell her of the beautiful, old,
southern city to which he was planning to take her.

"Is it near Wilhelmina's home, Uncle?"

"No, dear, it is much farther from New York. Wilhelmina's home is in
Georgia, too near the sea for you at present. We shall go to Texas, a
long, long journey; but we shall be well repaid when we reach San
Antonio. That is the Spanish way of saying Saint Anthony. It is a very
old city, founded by the Franciscan Fathers more than two hundred years
ago, and has an interesting and exciting history."

"And will it really be warm there?"

"So warm that by the first of February you will probably be able to play
outdoors in a white dress without wraps. The poorest shanty will be
almost hidden by roses."

"Then I won't need to take my winter clothes at all."

"I think it will be well for you to take your warm cloak; for sometimes
a cold wind called a 'norther' swoops down on the city, and then the
beautiful palm trees and the flowers suffer, and for a few days the
children hurry to school bundled up in the warmest clothes they can
find. We who see so much snow and ice for several months at a time would
look upon such a cold snap as fine, bracing weather; but those southern
people do not enjoy it at all."

"I wish Wilhelmina lived in San Antonio."

"So do I, little one. You would have great times together, though I
really do not know what you would do in a house with seven boys. They
are just about the liveliest little crowd I have ever met, and
Wilhelmina is equal to any one of them."

"Is she seven years old, too, Uncle?"

"Not quite seven. Her birthday is in January, so you are nearly eight
months older than she is; but she is large and strong for her age. No
one but her mother ever thinks of calling her by her full name. Even her
father calls her Willie, and I have heard the boys say 'Billy' or
'Bill' when their mother is not around."

"I hope I shall know them all some day. They must have the best times
together. They need never invite anyone to spend the day with them."

"No, indeed; though they do sometimes have what they term, 'The
Gathering of the Clan,' when their forty-five or fifty first cousins,
with their fathers and mothers, pay a visit to Sunnymead, as
Wilhelmina's home is called."

"_Forty-five or fifty first cousins!_ Why, Uncle! And I haven't _one_!"

"Perhaps you have some, dear, that we know nothing about. Your father
has a brother and a sister of whom he has heard nothing for many years.
He was not always a Catholic, you know; and when he became one, your
Aunt Bertha would have no more to do with him. Your Uncle Alfred was in
Europe at the time. He was not one to trouble himself much about
religion and would not care what your father did about it; but he has
doubtless been roaming from place to place over there, and any letters
which your father has written him have probably gone astray. At all
events, men, as a rule, are not great letter-writers, you know."

Then the Doctor told the little girl about her father's old home in
Virginia, which was built when George Washington was a little boy. By
degrees, her eyes grew heavy, and his voice died away into silence; and
when, at the very late hour of half-past seven, Sister Julia came as far
as the door to see whether her patient was ready to go to bed, she found
the Doctor, a very tender light in his eyes, gazing into the glowing
coals, and Mary fast asleep in his arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "_Our girls have found a new and splendid champion._"

                         Father Finn in the _Queen's Works_.


Uncle Frank's Mary

By CLEMENTIA


Uncle Frank's Mary is Clementia's first book, and it is full of
thoughtful interest; has a wonderful plot development, charming
dialogue, and an abundance of action. It introduces a host of delightful
personages besides the lovable little heroine.

It will appeal to girls particularly from ages 12 to 17.


The Quest of Mary Selwyn

This book is a sequel to Uncle Frank's Mary. The atmosphere of the story
despite thrilling adventures by land and sea is thoroughly feminine.

It is a story that will be enjoyed by all.


Bird-A-Lea

By CLEMENTIA


Although this book deals with Mary Selwyn and the characters of
Clementia's first two books, it is complete in itself. It sets forth the
happy life at "Bird-a-Lea," the beautiful summer home of the Selwyn
family. Every page is full of adventure. "Bird-a-Lea" is so well written
that girls from ten to twenty years and even over will not put it aside
before they have finished it.

_The best girls' story written since "Little Women"_

       *       *       *       *       *

Work, Wealth and Wages

BY REV. JOSEPH HUSSLEIN, S. J., Ph. D.

_A splendid book by the eminent Jesuit Author_

_A book for everyone who works_

It should be read by every employer and employee. It should be placed in
the hands of labor leaders. It will be read with profit by the classes
and the masses.

The purpose of the book is to offer, for the use of all, a brief but
suggestive exposition of the Christian principles underlying the great
social problems of our day.

Father Husslein's valuable book covers such questions as "A Living
Wage," "The Right to Strike," "Women at the Wheel of Industry,"
"Present-day Capitalism," "Proletarian Dictatorship," "Copartnership and
Profit-sharing," "Ozanam on Poverty and Wealth," "The Science of
Charity," "Catholic Efficiency," "The Apostolic Rule," etc., etc.

WORK, WEALTH AND WAGES should be in millions of our Catholic homes.





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