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   Chapter 4 THE POOR THING

The Three Midshipmen By William Henry Giles Kingston Characters: 30591

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


A week later Miss Grandis was called home by illness in her family, and she asked Laura to drive to the station with her.

"I wanted the chance to talk with you," she explained, as they drove along the quiet country road. "You know I should not have been able to stay here much longer anyhow, and now I shall not come back, and I want you to take charge of my girls. Will you?"

"O, I can't yet-I haven't had half enough training," Laura protested.

"I know, but you've put so much into the time you have had in camp, and I know that Mrs. Royall will be glad to have you in my place. You can keep on with your training just the same. I want to tell you about the girls." She told something of the environment of each one-enough to help Laura to understand their needs. "And there's Elizabeth Page, who is coming to-morrow," she went on. "I always think of her as the Poor Thing. O, I do so hope the Camp Fire will do a great deal for her-she's had so pitifully little in her life thus far. Her mother died when she was a baby, and she has been just a drudge for her stepmother and the younger children, and she's not strong enough for such hard work. She's never had anything for herself. The camp will seem like paradise to her if she can only get in touch with things-I'm sure it will."

"I'll do my best for her," Laura promised.

"I know you will. And you'll meet her when she comes, to-morrow?"

"Of course," Laura returned.

There was no time to spare when they reached the station, but Miss Grandis' last word was of Elizabeth and her great need.

Laura was at the station early the next day, and would have recognised the Poor Thing even if she had not been the only girl leaving the train at that place. Elizabeth was seventeen, but she might have been taken for fourteen until one looked into her eyes-they seemed to mirror the pain and privation of half a century. Laura's heart went out to her in a wave of pitying tenderness, but the girl drew back as if frightened by the warm friendliness of her greeting.

All the way back to camp she sat silent, answering a direct question with a nod or shake of the head, but never speaking; and when, at the camp, a crowd of girls came to meet the newcomer, she looked wildly around as if for refuge from all these strangers. Seeing this, Laura, with a whispered word, sent the girls away, and introduced Elizabeth only to Mrs. Royall and Anne Wentworth.

"Another scared rabbit?" giggled Louise Johnson.

"Don't call her that, Louise," said Bessie Carroll. "I'm awfully sorry for the poor thing."

Laura, overhearing the low-spoken words, said to herself, "There it is-Poor Thing. That name is bound to cling to her, it fits so exactly."

It did fit exactly, and within two days Elizabeth was the Poor Thing to every girl in the camp. Laura kept the child with her most of the first day; she was quiet and still as a ghost, did as she was told, and watched all that went on, but she spoke to no one and never asked a question. At night she was given a cot next to Olga's. When Laura showed her her place at bedtime, she pointed to the adjoining tent.

"I sleep right there, Elizabeth," she said, "and if you want anything in the night, just speak, and I shall hear you. But I hope you will sleep so soundly that you won't know anything till morning. It's lovely sleeping out of doors like this!"

Elizabeth said nothing, but she shivered as she cast a fearful glance into the shadowy spaces beyond the tents, and Laura hastened to add, "You needn't be a bit afraid. Nothing but birds and squirrels ever come around here."

Elizabeth went early to bed, and was apparently sound asleep when the other girls went to their cots. But after all was still and the camp lights out, she lay trembling, and staring wide-eyed into the darkness. A thousand strange small sounds beat on her strained ears, and when suddenly the hoot of an owl rang out from a nearby treetop, Elizabeth sprang up with a frightened cry and clutched wildly at the girl in the nearest cot.

Olga's cold voice answered her cry. "It's nothing but an owl, you goose! Go back to your bed!"

But Elizabeth was on her knees, clinging desperately to Olga's hand.

"O, I'm afraid, I'm afraid!" she moaned. "Please please let me stay here with you. I never was in a p-place like this before."

Olga jerked her hand away from the clinging fingers. "Get back to your bed!" she ordered under her breath. "Anybody'd think you were a baby."

"I don't care what anybody'd think if you'll only let me stay. I-I must touch s-somebody," wailed the Poor Thing in a choked voice.

"Well, it won't be me you'll touch," retorted Olga. "And if you don't keep still I'll report you in the morning. You'll have every girl in the camp awake presently."

"O, I don't care," sobbed Elizabeth under her breath. "I-I want to go home. I'd rather die than stay here!"

"Well, die if you like, but leave the rest of us to sleep in peace," muttered Olga, and turning her face away from the wretched little creature crouching at her side, she went calmly to sleep.

When she awoke she gave a casual glance at the next cot. It was empty, but on the floor was a small huddled figure, one hand still clutching Olga's blanket. Olga started to yank the blanket away, but the look of suffering in the white face stayed her impatient hand. She touched the thin shoulder of Elizabeth, and for once her touch was almost gentle. Elizabeth opened her eyes with a start as Olga whispered, "Get back to your bed. There's an hour before rising time."

Elizabeth crawled slowly back to her own cot, but she did not sleep again. Neither did Olga, and she was uncomfortably aware that a pair of timid blue eyes were on her face until she turned her back on them.

At ten o'clock that morning the girls all trooped down to the water. Some in full knickerbockers and middy blouses were going to row or paddle, but most wore bathing suits. With some difficulty Laura persuaded Elizabeth to put on a bathing suit that Miss Grandis had left for her, but no urging or coaxing could induce her to go into the water even to wade, though other girls were swimming and splashing and frolicking like mermaids. Elizabeth sat on the sand, her eyes following Olga's dark head as the girl swept through the water like a fish-swimming, floating, diving-she seemed as much at home in the water as on land.

"You can do all those things too, Elizabeth, if you will," Laura told her. "Look at Myra, there-she has always been afraid to try to swim, but she's learning to-day, and see how she is enjoying it."

Elizabeth drew further into her shell of silence. She cast a fleeting glance at Myra Karr, nervously trying to obey Mary Hastings' directions and "act like a frog"-then her eyes searched again for Olga, now far out in the bay.

When she could not distinguish the dark head, anxiety at last conquered her timidity, and she turned to Laura:

"O, is she drowned?" she cried under her breath. "Olga-is she?"

Anne Wentworth laughed out at the question. "Why, Elizabeth," she said, leaning towards her, "Olga's a perfect fish in the water. She's the best swimmer in camp. Look-there she comes now."

She came swimming on her side, one strong brown arm cutting swiftly and steadily through the water. When presently she walked up on the beach, a pale smile glimmered over Elizabeth's face, but it vanished at Olga's glance as she passed with the scornful fling-"Haven't even wet your feet-baby!"

Elizabeth's face flushed and she drew her bare feet under her.

"Never mind, you'll wet them to-morrow, won't you, Elizabeth?" Laura said; but the Poor Thing made no reply; she only gulped down a sob as she looked after the straight young figure in the dripping bathing suit marching down the beach.

"She notices no one but Olga," Laura said as she walked back to camp with her friend. "If Olga would only take an interest in her!"

"If only she would!" Anne agreed. "But she seems to have no more feeling than a fish!"

Many of the girls did their best to draw the Poor Thing out of her shell of scared silence, but they all failed. And Olga would do nothing. Yet Elizabeth followed Olga like her shadow day after day. Olga's impatient rebuffs-even her angry commands-only made the Poor Thing hang back a little.

When things had gone on so for a week, Laura asked Olga to go with her to the village. She went, but they were no sooner on the road than she began abruptly, "I know what you want of me, Miss Haven, but it's no use. I can't be bothered with that Poor Thing-she makes me sick-always hanging around and wanting to get her hands on me. I can't stand that sort of thing, and I won't-that's all there is about it. I'll go home first."

When Laura answered nothing, Olga glanced at her grave face and went on sulkily, "Nobody ought to expect me to put up with an everlasting trailer like that girl."

Still Laura was silent until Olga flung out, "You might as well say it. I know what you are thinking of me."

"I wasn't thinking of you, Olga. I was thinking of Elizabeth. If you saw her drowning you'd plunge in and save her without a moment's hesitation."

"Of course I would-but I wouldn't have her hanging on to me like a leech after I'd saved her."

"I suppose you have not realised that in 'hanging on' to you-as you express it-she is simply fighting for her life."

"What do you mean, Miss Haven?"

"I mean that Elizabeth is-starving. Not food starvation, but a worse kind. Olga, this is the first time in her life that she has ever spent a day away from home-she told me that-or ever had any one try to make her happy. Is it any wonder that she doesn't know how to be happy or make friends? It seems strange that, from among so many who would gladly be her friends here, she should have chosen you who are not willing to be a friend to any one-strange, and a great pity, it seems. It throws an immense responsibility upon you."

"I don't want any such responsibility. I don't think any of you ought to put it on me," Olga flung out sulkily.

"We are not putting it on you," returned Laura gently.

Olga twitched her shoulder with an impatient gesture, and the two walked some distance before she spoke again. Then it was to say, "What are you asking me to do, anyhow?"

"I am not asking you to do anything," Laura answered. "It is for you to ask yourself what you are going to do. I believe it is in your power to make over that poor girl mind and body-I might almost say, soul too. She thinks she can do nothing but household drudgery. She is afraid of everything. When I think of what you could do for her in the next month-Olga, I wonder that you can let such a wonderful opportunity pass you by."

They went the rest of the way mostly in silence. When they returned to the camp, Elizabeth was watching for them, but the glance Olga gave her was so repellent that she shrank away, and went off alone to the Lookout. Later Laura tried to interest Elizabeth in the making of a headband of beadwork, but though she evidently liked to handle the bright-coloured beads, she would not try to do the work herself.

"I can't. I can't do things like that," she said with gentle indifference, her eyes wandering off in search of Olga.

The next day, however, Laura came to Anne Wentworth, her eyes shining. "O Anne, what do you think?" she cried. "Olga had Elizabeth in wading this morning. Isn't that fine?"

"Fine indeed-for a beginning. It shows what Olga might do with her if she would."

"Yes, for she was so cross with her! I wondered that Elizabeth did not go away and leave her. No other girl in camp would let Olga speak to her as she speaks to that Poor Thing."

"No, the others are not Poor Things, you see-that makes all the difference. But that Olga should take the trouble to make Elizabeth do anything is a big step in advance-for Olga."

"There is splendid material in Olga, Anne-I am sure of it," Laura returned.

There was splendid persistence in her, anyhow. She had undertaken to overcome Elizabeth's fear of the water, but it was a harder task than she had imagined. She did make the Poor Thing wade-clinging tightly to Olga's fingers all the time-but further than that she could not lead her. Day after day Elizabeth would stand shivering and trembling in water up to her knees, her cheeks so white and her lips so blue that Olga dared not compel her to go further. Yet day after day Olga made her wade in that far at least; not once would she allow her to omit it.

One day she sat for a long time looking gravely at the Poor Thing, who flushed and paled nervously under that steady silent scrutiny. At last Olga said abruptly, "What do you like best, Elizabeth?"

"Like-best--" Elizabeth faltered uncertainly.

Olga frowned and repeated her question.

Elizabeth shook her head slowly. "I-I like Molly. And the other children-a little."

"You mean your brothers and sisters?"

Elizabeth nodded.

"Which is Molly?"

"The littlest one. She's four, and she's real pretty," Elizabeth declared proudly. "She's prettier than Annie Pearson."

"Yes, but what do you yourself like?" Olga persisted. "What would you like to have-pretty dresses, ribbons-what?"

"I-I never thought," was the vague reply.

Again Olga's brows met in a frown that made the Poor Thing shrink and tremble. She brought out her necklace and tossed it into the other girl's lap.

"Think that's pretty?" she asked.

"O yes!" Elizabeth breathed softly. She did not touch the necklace, but gazed admiringly at the bright-coloured beads as they lay in her lap.

"You can have one like it if you want," Olga told her.

"O no! Who'd give me one?"

"Nobody. But you can get it for yourself. See here-I got all those blue beads by learning about the wild flowers that grow right around here, the weeds and stones and animals and birds. You can get as many in a few days. I got that green one for making a little bit of a basket, that-for making my washstand there out of a soap box-that, for trimming my hat. Every bead on that necklace is there because of some little thing I did or made-all things that you can do too."

The Poor Thing shook her head. "O no," she stammered in her weak gentle voice, "I can't do anything. I-I ain't like other girls."

"You can be if you want to," Olga flung out at her impatiently. "Say-what can you do? You can do something."

"No-nothing." The Poor Thing's blue eyes filled slowly with big tears, and she looked through them beseechingly at the other. Olga drew a long exasperated breath. She wanted to take hold of the girl's thin shoulders and shake the limpness out of her once for all.

"What did you do at home?" she demanded with harsh abruptness.

"N-nothing," Elizabeth answered with a miserable gulp.

"You did too! Of course you did something," Olga flamed. "You didn't sit and stare at Molly and the others all day the way you stare at me, did you? What did you do, I say?"

Elizabeth gave her a swift scared glance as she stammered, "I didn't do anything but cook and sweep and wash and iron and take care of the children-truly I didn't."

Olga's face brightened. "Good heavens-if you aren't the limit!" she shrugged. Then she sprang up and go

t pencil and paper. "What can you cook?" she demanded, and proceeded to put Elizabeth through a rapid-fire examination on marketing, plain cooking, washing, ironing, sweeping, bed-making, and care of babies. At last she had found some things that even the Poor Thing could do. With flying fingers she scribbled down the girl's answers. Finally she cried excitingly, "There! See what a goose you were to say you couldn't do anything! Why, there are lots of girls here who couldn't do half these things. Elizabeth Page, listen. You've got twelve orange beads like those," she pointed to the necklace-"already, for a beginning. That's more than I have of that colour. I don't know anything about taking care of babies, nor half what you do about cooking and marketing."

Elizabeth stared, her mouth half open, her eyes widened in incredulous wonder. "But-but," she faltered, "I guess there's some mistake. Just housework and things like that ain't anything to get beads for-are they?"

"They are that! I tell you Mrs. Royall will give you twelve honours and twelve yellow beads at the next Council Fire, and if you half try you can win some blue and brown and red ones too before that, and you've just got to do it. Do you understand?"

The other nodded, her eyes full of dumb misery. Then she began to whimper, "I-I-can't ever do things like you and the rest do," she moaned.

"Why not? You can walk, can't you?"

"W-walk?"

"Yes-walk! Didn't hurt you to walk to the village yesterday, did it?"

"No-but I couldn't go-alone."

"Who said anything about going alone? You'll walk to Slabtown and back with me to-morrow."

"O, I'd like that-with you," said the Poor Thing, brightening.

Olga gave an impatient sniff. Sometimes she almost hated Elizabeth-almost but not quite.

"You'll go with me to-morrow," she declared, "but next day you'll go with some other girl."

Elizabeth shrank into herself, shaking her head.

Olga eyed her sternly. "Very well-if you won't go with some other girl, you can't go with me to-morrow," she declared.

But the next day after breakfast the two set off for Slabtown. Halfway there, Elizabeth suddenly crumpled up and dropped in a limp heap by the roadside.

"What's the matter?" Olga demanded, standing over her.

Elizabeth lifted tired eyes. "I don't know. You walked so-fast," she panted.

"Fast!" echoed Olga scornfully; but she sat on a stone wall and waited until a little colour had crept back into the other girl's thin cheeks, and went at a slower pace afterwards.

"There! Do that every day for a week and you'll have one of your red beads," was her comment when they were back at camp. "And now go lie in that hammock."

When from the kitchen she brought a glass of milk and some crackers, she found Elizabeth sitting on the ground.

"Why didn't you get into the hammock as I told you?" she demanded, and the Poor Thing answered vaguely that she "thought maybe they wouldn't want" her to.

Olga poked the milk at her. "Drink it!" she ordered, "and eat those crackers," and when Elizabeth had obeyed, added, "Now get into that hammock and lie there till dinner-time," and meekly Elizabeth did so.

When, later in the day, some of the younger girls started a game of blindman's buff, Olga seized Elizabeth's hand. "Come," she said, "we're going to play too."

"O, I can't! I-I never did," cried the Poor Thing, hanging back.

"I never did either, but I'm going to now and so are you. Come!" and Elizabeth yielded to the imperative command.

The other girls stared in amazement as the two joined them. It was little Bess Carroll who smiled a welcome as Louise Johnson cried out,

"Wonders will never cease--Olga Priest playing a game!"

She spoke to Mary Hastings, who answered hastily, "Bless her heart-she's doing it just to get that Poor Thing to play. Let's take them right in, girls."

The girls were quick to respond. Olga was the next one caught, and when she was blinded she couldn't help catching Elizabeth, who stood still, never thinking of getting out of the way. Elizabeth didn't want the handkerchief tied over her eyes, but she submitted meekly, at a look from Olga. Half a dozen girls flung themselves in her way, and the one on whom her limp grasp fell ignored the fact that Elizabeth could not name her, and gaily held up the handkerchief to be tied over her own eyes in turn. Nobody caught Olga again. She was as quick as a flash and as slippery as an eel. Elizabeth's eyes followed her constantly, and a little glimmer of a smile touched her lips as Olga slipped safely out of reach of one catcher after another.

When she pulled Elizabeth out of the noisy merry circle, Olga glanced at the clock in the dining-room and made a swift calculation. "Three-quarters of an hour-blindman's buff."

"We've got to play at some game every day, Elizabeth," she announced, with grim determination. She hated games, but Elizabeth must win her red beads and the red blood for which they stood. She had undertaken to make something out of this jellyfish of a girl and she did not mean to fail. That was all there was about it. So every day she led forth the reluctant Elizabeth and patiently stood over her while she blundered through a game of basket-ball, hockey, prisoner's base, or whatever the girls were playing. But Elizabeth made small progress. Always she barely stumbled through her part, helped in every way by Olga and often by other girls who helped her for Olga's sake.

It was Mary Hastings who broke out earnestly one day, looking after the two going down the road, "I say, girls, we're just a lot of selfish pigs to leave that Poor Thing on Olga's hands all the time. It must be misery to her to have Elizabeth hanging on to her as she does-a dead weight."

"Right you are! I should think she'd hate the Poor Thing-I should. I should take her down to the dock some night and drown her," said Louise Johnson with her inevitable giggle.

"I think Olga deserves all the honours there are for the way she endures that-jellyfish," said Edith Rue.

"I never saw any one thaw out the way Olga has lately though. She really deigns to speak amiably now-sometimes," Annie Pearson put in with a sniff.

"She 'deigns' to do anything under the sun that will help that Poor Thing to be a bit like other girls," cried Mary. "Olga is splendid, girls! She makes me ashamed of myself twenty times a day. Do you realise what it means? She is trying to make that Poor Thing live. She just exists now. O, we must help her-we must-every single one of us!"

"But how, Molly? We're willing enough to help, but we don't know how. Elizabeth turns her back on every one of us except Olga-you know she does."

"I know," Mary admitted, "but if we really try we can find ways to help."

When, compelled by Olga's unyielding determination, the Poor Thing had taken a three-mile tramp every day for a week, she began to enjoy it, and did not object when another mile was added. She was always happy when she was with Olga, but at other times-when they were not walking-her content was marred by the consciousness that Olga was not really pleased with her because she could not do so many things that the others wanted her to do-like beadwork and basketwork, and above all, swimming. But Olga was pleased with her when she went willingly on these daily tramps.

The Poor Thing seemed to find something particularly attractive about the Slabtown settlement, and liked better to go in that direction than any other. She would often stop and watch the dirty half-naked babies playing in the bare yards; and as she watched them there would come into her face a look that Olga could not understand-Olga, who had never had a baby sister to love and cuddle.

One day when the two approached the little settlement, they saw half a dozen boys and girls walking along the top of a stone-wall that bordered the road. A baby girl-not yet three-was begging the others to help her up, but they refused.

"You can't get up here, Polly John-you're too little!" the boys shouted at her. But evidently Polly John had a will of her own, for she made such an outcry that at last her sister exclaimed, "We've got to take her up-she'll yell till we do," and to the baby she cried, "Now you hush up, Polly, an' ketch hold o' my hand."

The baby held up her hand and with a jerk she was pulled to the top of the wall, but by no means did she "hush up." She writhed and twisted and screamed, but there was a difference now-a note of pain and terror in the shrill cries.

"What ails her? What's she yellin' for now?" one boy demanded, and another shouted, "Take her down, Peggy. You get down with her."

"I won't, either!" Peggy retorted angrily, but she was sitting on the wall now, holding the baby half impatiently, half anxiously.

"Look at her arm. What makes her stick it out like that?" one boy questioned.

The big sister took hold of the small arm, but at her touch the baby's cries redoubled, and a woman put her head out of a window and sharply demanded what they were doing to that child anyhow.

It was then that the Poor Thing suddenly darted across the road and caught the wailing child from the arms of her astonished sister.

"O, don't touch her arm!" Elizabeth cried. "Don't you see? It's hurting her dreadfully. You slipped it out of joint when you pulled her up there."

"I didn't, either! Much you know about it!" the older girl flashed back, sticking out her tongue. But the fear in her eyes belied her impudence.

"Where's her mother?" Elizabeth demanded.

"She ain't got none," chorused all the children.

Several women now came hurrying out to see what was the matter. One of them held out her arms to the child, but she hid her face on Elizabeth's shoulder, and still kept up her frightened wailing.

"How d'ye know her arm's out o' joint?" one of the women demanded when Peggy had repeated what Elizabeth had said.

"I do know because I pulled my little sister's arm out just that way once, lifting her over a crossing. O, I wish I knew how to slip it in again! It wouldn't take a minute if we only knew how. Now we must get her to a doctor-quick. It is hurting her dreadfully, you know-that's why she keeps crying so!"

"A doctor! Ain't no doctor nearer'n East Bassett," one woman said.

"East Bassett! Then we must take her there," Elizabeth said to Olga, who for once stood by silent and helpless.

"We can get her there in twenty minutes-maybe fifteen if we walk fast," she said.

"Then"-Elizabeth questioned the women-"can any of you take her there?"

The women exchanged glances. "It's 'most dinner time-my man will be home," said one. The others all had excuses; no one offered to take the child to East Bassett. No one really believed in the necessity. What did this white-faced slip of a girl know about children, anyhow?

"Then I'll take her myself," the Poor Thing declared. "I guess I can carry her that far."

"An' who'll bring her back?" demanded the child's sister gloomily.

"You must come with me and bring her back," Elizabeth answered with decision. "Come quick! I tell you it's hurting her awfully. Don't you see how white she is?"

Peggy looked at the little face all white and drawn with pain, and surrendered.

"I'll go," she said meekly, and without more words, Elizabeth set off with the child in her arms. Olga followed in silence, and Peggy trailed along in the rear, but as she went she turned and shouted back to one of the boys, "Jimmy, you come along too with the wagon to bring her home in," and presently a freckled-faced boy, with straw-coloured hair, had joined the procession. The wagon he drew was a soapbox fitted with a pair of wheels from a go-cart.

"Let me carry her, Elizabeth-she's too heavy for you," Olga said after a few minutes; but the child clung to Elizabeth, refusing to be transferred, and at the pressure of the little yellow head against her shoulder, Elizabeth smiled.

"I can carry her," she said. "She's not so very heavy. She makes me think of little Molly."

So Elizabeth carried the child all the way, and held her still when they reached East Bassett and by rare good luck found the doctor at home. He was an old man, and over his glasses he looked up with a twinkle of amusement as the party of five trailed into his office. But the next instant he demanded abruptly,

"What ails that child?"

"It's her arm-see?" Elizabeth said. "It's out of joint."

"Yes!" The doctor snapped out the word. Then his hands were on the baby's shoulder, there was a quick skilful twist, a shriek of pain and terror from the baby, and the bone slipped into place.

"There, that's all right. She's crying now only because she's frightened," the doctor said, snapping his fingers at the child. "How did it happen?"

Elizabeth explained.

"Well, I guess you'll know better than to lift a baby by the arm another time," the doctor said, with a kindly smile into Elizabeth's tired face. "Is it your sister?"

"No-hers." Elizabeth indicated Peggy, who twisted her bare feet nervously one over the other as the doctor looked her over. "They live at Slabtown," Elizabeth added.

"O-at Slabtown. And where do you live?"

"I'm-we," Elizabeth's gesture included Olga, "we are at the camp."

"And how came you mixed up in this business?" The doctor meant to know all about the affair now. When Elizabeth had told him, he looked at her curiously. "And so you lugged that heavy child all the way down here?" he said.

"Olga wanted to carry her, but the baby wouldn't let her-and she was crying, so--" Elizabeth's voice trailed off into silence.

The doctor smiled at her again. Then suddenly he inquired in a gruff voice, "Well now, who's going to pay me for this job-you?"

"O!" cried Elizabeth, her eyes suddenly very anxious. "I-I never thought of that. It was hurting her so-and she's so little-I just thought-thought--" Again she left her sentence unfinished.

"What's her name? Who's her father?" the doctor demanded.

Peggy answered, "Father's Jim Johnson. I guess mebbe he'll pay you-sometime."

The doctor's face changed. He remembered when Jim Johnson's wife died a year before-he remembered the three children now.

"There's nothing to pay," he said kindly, "only be careful how you pull your little sister around by the arms after this. Some children can stand that sort of handling, but she can't."

"O, thank you!" Elizabeth's eyes full of gratitude were lifted to the old doctor's face as she spoke. He rose, and looking down at her, laid a kindly hand on her shoulder.

"That camp's a good place for you. Stay there as long as you can," he said. "But don't lug a three-year-old a mile and a half again. You are hardly strong enough yet for that kind of athletics."

They all filed out then, and Elizabeth put little Polly John into the soapbox wagon, kissed the small face, dirty and tear-stained as it was, and stood for a moment looking after the three children as they set off towards Slabtown.

As they went on to the camp, Olga kept glancing at Elizabeth in silent wonder. Was this really the Poor Thing who could not do anything-who would barely answer "yes" or "no" when any one spoke to her? Olga watched her in puzzled silence.

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